â€œIâ€™ve said 50 times in the last month that this is a fun time to do job development,â€ said Marilee Larson of TSE, Inc. â€œWe canâ€™t keep up with all the opportunities out there. I made a list of all the various types of jobs. There are forty-five or fifty different positions.â€ Recent or upcoming placements include deli, floral, retail stocking and grocery bagging and cashiering.
Thatâ€™s good news for an organization whose clientsâ€™ unemployment rates are â€œwell above the general population,â€ Larson said. Although TSE is known for serving clients with developmental disabilities, Larson said, â€œWe serve people across the board with various disabilities. Weâ€™re serving many more people with mental health issues. Intelligence isnâ€™t the question but theyâ€™re hiding depression or bipolar or that kind of thing. We serve many more people with autism now than we used to. They can offer so many skillsâ€”it is just incredible if we find the right match for them.â€
Larson thinks TSE is benefitting from the current worker shortage. â€œSmart employers have opened up. Theyâ€™re asking, â€˜Where havenâ€™t we looked?â€™ That is much to our benefit.â€ In addition, Larson said, the reliability and commitment of TSEâ€™s previous placements leads to â€œseveral calls a week from employers where weâ€™re already known. They want more of that.â€
The current climate is especially suited for TSEâ€™s job development philosophy: â€œItâ€™s not just a jobâ€”itâ€™s the right job,â€ Larson said. â€œThatâ€™s all we do now is find the specific match.â€ TSEâ€™s â€œPrime Timeâ€ program lets clients â€œgo and explore a lot of careers for six weeks at a time through a forty-hour paid internship. Most of those internships are working right into jobs,â€ Larson said.
Getting Started with Job Development
â€œI do get calls from people who are just starting to think about this possibility,â€ Larson said. â€œWe start from square oneâ€”how and why and where. I start wherever theyâ€™re at. I give them some examples. Itâ€™s not any kind of obligation when you call and are exploring. We may or may not have a fit. There are times when I say we donâ€™t have people who can do that, or we have people but theyâ€™re happily employed. Many times those beginning conversation turn into a career.â€
Flexibility is key, Larson said. â€œIf they know exactly what tasks theyâ€™re most in need ofâ€”maybe itâ€™s not everything on a particular job description. We can put a person on this particular task, take it out of someone elseâ€™s job description and free up that person to do other things.â€ Larson said that can be a particularly useful approach to companies who are still recovering from the recession. â€œAll those people that you had doing the work of three people–is it time to give them a little relief? You can hire someone who fits a particular task, and your current staff can start concentrating on what they can do well because they have more time.â€
Larson said TSEâ€™s overall business model is now â€œhalf and halfâ€â€”workers who are employed directly by the company where they work and those who are paid through TSE’s contract with the employer. â€œIt just depends on what fits for the employer and what the needs are.â€
In either case, Larson said, â€œFor the majority of our people, we provide the support. Itâ€™s typically a daily check-in to head off problems or solve something. We support people for the rest of their life if needed.â€