Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Simonsen, M., Fabian, E., & Luecking, R.G. (2015). Employer preferences in hiring youth with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation, 81 (1), 9.
Title:  Employer preferences in hiring youth with disabilities
Authors:  Simonsen, M., Fabian, E., & Luecking, R.G.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Rehabilitation
Publisher:  National Rehabilitation Association
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported
Research design:  Survey research

Structured abstract:

Background:  Paid work experience while in high school is a predictor of post-school employment for youth with disabilities. However, not much is known about how employers who work with schools to implement these programs perceive the hiring process. Employment outcomes for transition aged youth are poor as compared to their non-disabled peers. Information about how employers perceive job development practices or factors contributing to their decisions to hire youth with disabilities may help improve employment outcomes.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to identify factors contributing to employer decisions to hire youth with disabilities, who were participating in Bridges to Work program, administered by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. Research questions included: What factors promote or motivate employers to hire a job applicant with a disability and do these factors vary by company characteristics such as respondent role and company size.
Setting:  Respondents were from one of nine Bridges' sites located across the United States.
Study sample:  One hundred and eight employers who hired a youth from one of nine sites responded to the survey. Eight were eliminated due to incomplete surveys. The results was a total of 100 respondents, representing all nine sites. Employers represented various types of industries. For example, the majority (27%) were from the lodging industry followed by retail (25%).The majority of the respondents were female (71%) and most held a Bachelor’s degree (57%). The respondents role in hiring and supervising the youth varied with about half or (51%) working in Human Resources. Notably, (91%) of the respondents had been directly involved in the youth’s hiring process.
Intervention:  There was no intervention. This was a survey about employer views.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison group.
Data collection and analysis:  A survey was developed based on a review of literature and input from the Bridges executive staff. Field experts reviewed the instrument and established content validity and clarified questions. Based on these reviews and feedback the instrument was revised. Next, the survey was piloted with eight employers. Then instrument went under another revision. The final instrument included 17 items about the following: demographics, company information, factors that motivated the person to hire a youth with a disability, feedback about role of Bridges' staff in the hiring process, and a general satisfaction question.
Findings:  The employers used a variety of recruitment sources, with only 12% utilizing vocational rehabilitation offices. Larger companies relied on vocational rehabilitation (22%) compared to smaller companies (7%). The top factor (one of nine) that influenced employers to hire youth from the Bridges program was the youth’s ability to perform the job (31%). The lowest rated factors were reputation of Bridges program (3%) and needed employee to fill position (3%). The employer’s confidence in the employment specialist had the highest mean rating across the entire sample, out of the nine factors. This was important across company size and respondent role. Employers also identified a number of socially desirable hiring goals like a commitment to diversified workforce, wanting to give back to community and the desire to expand work opportunities for youth. Several implications emerged for job developers. Filling an existing job vacancy was rated low. This is in alignment with recent literature suggesting that assisting an applicant with applying for advertised job opening is not effective. Instead, job developers need to develop relationships with employers to help them identify unmet needs and customize tasks for candidates who can meet those needs. Customized employment strategies encompass several highly rated factors like having confidence in the role of the job developer and documenting performance capacity of a job candidate in relation to specific demands of the business and maintaining a relationship with the job developer. Another important factor was documenting the performance capacity of youth. This is also supported in other studies. the other finding, hiring for socially desirable reasons also has implications for the field.
Conclusions:  This study supports best practices in job development. This includes developing relationships with employers and customizing jobs. Job developers should integrate various approaches in order to assist youth with disabilities with employment.