Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Rebecca Goe, MA, MPH, Catherine Ipsen, PhD, and Stacey Bliss, BA (2017). Pilot Testing a Digital Career Literacy Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 61 (4), 236-243.
Title:  Pilot Testing a Digital Career Literacy Training for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals
Authors:  Rebecca Goe, MA, MPH, Catherine Ipsen, PhD, and Stacey Bliss, BA
Year:  2017
Journal/Publication:  Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Publisher:  Sage Publications
DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/00343552177243
Full text: 
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  Vocational Rehabilitation specialists have helped people find jobs and have worked to assist clients in job searches. The internet has expanded over the past twenty years and the use of the internet as a job search and career advancement tool has become very important. Business use internet tools to recruit talent and web sites are established for job seekers to submit resumes and provide information to businesses. In addition, decisions about employment often turn on a candidates presence on the internet and the information about lifestyle choices found online. In fact, recent surveys of hiring managers concluded that a majority use internet tools to uncover about candidates. Having an awareness of these issues led one researcher, Hooley, to coin the term digital career literacy to help folks understand the importance of an online presence and the implications such a presence can have on employment. Ultimately, building a positive online presence is one key to obtaining employment. VR professionals are uniquely positioned to impact awareness of an online presence to potential job seekers. Lack of training and understanding of the many online tools makes helping VR consumers challenging.
Purpose:  This study researched the impact of training on internet resources available for VR professionals, and the effectiveness of training in raising awareness of and use of online tools for VR consumers.
Study sample:  VR professionals were invited from Washington, Montana, and Alabama to participate in the study. Of the respondents, 201 were assigned to the control group and 199 to the intervention group. Ultimately, 258 people initially completed the survey and an additional 211 responded to a follow up survey. Phone numbers were used to match surveys to individuals. Unfortunately, many individuals used a common phone number, reducing the verified sample to 136 respondents. These respondents included administrators, counselors, employment consultants and others. Of this group, 69 participants were part of the intervention group.
Intervention:  Training was based on the use of an online baseline survey about digital literacy. Kristen Jacoway Beasley from Career Design Coach developed the training with support from staff and VR professionals. Five training web-based live seminars were developed. The sessions included overviews of the three most popular social media sites: Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. Information was provided on building resumes and and online presence as well as the use of the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP). TAP is an online job board funded and supported by the Counsel of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation.
Data collection and analysis:  Using the online surveys, participants were narrowed into control and intervention groups. The participants were then identified based on phone number, job title, age, duration of employment, and urban/rural location among other factors.
Findings:  69 particpants attended training sessions. 49 attended all five sessions, 14 attended four, three attended three, one attended two, and two attended just one. The intervention group expressed their understanding of online job search skills and online presence. At the same time, that understanding did not correspond to an increase in use of these tools. At the same time, the focus on Linkedin in some of the training did improve understanding of and use of this particular app. VR professionals did use Linkedin and Facebook to stay in touch with VR consumers and communications did improve. Primarily, the training helped professionals see the positive benefits of using these tools in job searches for VR consumers.
Conclusions:  Using online tools is one key to improving job searches and employment for VR consumers. This training improved awareness of available tools and improving preparedness of VR professionals. At the same time, preparedness did not directly translate into the use of these online tools. Lack of policies in agencies in these states may impact the use of online tools for VR consumers and professionals.

Populations served:  Other
Interventions:  Career counseling
Job search and placement assistance
Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Other