Training Recruiters Improves Employment of Those with Learning Disabilities

Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can present multiple challenges for individuals. People with IDDs can have difficulty finding appropriate housing, health care, and even employment. The Workforce Investment Act has joined with the Americans with Disabilities Act to promote employment of individuals with IDDs. However, statistically, these individuals still have lower wages, report fewer working hours, and are generally underemployed compared to their peers without IDDs.

John Butterworth, Ph.D., a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, recently led a study that was targeted at employers, rather than prospective employees, in an effort to increase the overall employment status of individuals with IDDs. Butterworth instituted a training program for recruiters and consultants who aided potential employees with IDDs. The program was designed to teach consultants about the value of IDD employees and give them information pertaining to the needs of these prospects. Support and follow-up through the transition period were key elements of the training delivered to the 84 consultants.

In the 1 year after the training, the rate of employment placements increased more than three-fold. Additionally, the pay rate of the employees with IDDs increased by approximately $1.00 per hour, and the employees worked approximately 6 hours more per week than those placed by other consultants. These results underscore the importance of specialized training for professionals charged with assisting individuals with IDDs in finding gainful and meaningful employment. Although not all of the consultants reported increases in employment and wages, most did. This could be due to the level of support received by the consultants’ corporations and the compliance of the prospective employees. Regardless, this approach, which targets employers rather than employees, demonstrates that everyone working with IDD clients needs to be aware of and sensitive to their needs in order to provide the most beneficial working environment for all involved. Butterworth added, “More needs to be done, however, to ensure that employment programs and their employment consultants are familiar with and use state-of-the-art job-development practices when they assist job seekers with IDD.”

Butterworth, J., Migliore, A., Nord, D. (2012). Improving the employment outcomes of job seekers with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A training and mentoring intervention for employment consultants. Journal of Rehabilitation 78.2, 20-29.

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  • Liz

    June 16th, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    No amount of persuasion to hire such people will work.But awareness?Yes,awareness can really open people’s minds and get them to see things in the right light.Perhaps that’s the best approach.

  • A.Hamilton

    June 17th, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    A lot of this hesitancy in recruiting people with disabilities is due to ignorance and misconceptions. An open mind is bound to help them see things right and go ahead with recruiting eligible people with disabilities.

  • Pearl

    June 18th, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    Liz- I respectfully have to disagree with you. I work for a company that once would have never considered the value in hiring people with mild disabilities. After undergoing some training programs for our recruiters with our local disabilities and special needs board, they were able to show us the many positve benefits of integrating this once overlooked segment of society into our workforce. It has been so uplifting for the newly employed as well as those like me who have been with the company for years to get the chance to offer meaningful employment to some in our community who have never had the chance to experience that before. I think that for many of us it has done so much more than just raise awareness of this special needs population,but has given many of them a way to feel needed and necessary in a way that they have never had the opportunity to do before. And it has helped me and other employees recognize that there is not this great divide, that we all have something in common, and that by working together we are creating a stronger company than we have ever had.

  • Nolan

    June 18th, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    In the business that I am in we have hired people with varying levels of disabilities over the years, be it mental or physical handicaps, and I can truly say that most of the time these have been some of the ebst employees that I have ever had the opportunity to work for me. These have all been workers who understand the importance of a job and work to do a good job for the company and for themselves. Their job became very much a source of pride for them and they were committed to always giving their best day in and day out. I only wish that half of my others employees over the years gave the same amount of effort and heart.

  • MaryBeth

    June 19th, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    There are some jobs and industries where the hiring of someone with a mental disability is not a possibility!
    Sure there are jobs behind the scenes in some places where this will be fine, but I think that if you look at things realistically instead of through those rose colored glasses that many prefer to wear you will admit that there is not a place in every employment opportunity for people with even mild disabilities.
    I realize that this POV will be pretty unpopular, but I think that I am just coming out and saying what a lot of other people believe but are too afraid to say.

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