What is the Progressive Employment Learning Collaborative?
The Progressive Employment Learning Collaborative (PE LC) brings VR practitioners and researchers together in a cross-state forum to solve problems, identify and apply solutions, and measure outcomes and results through research and evaluation activities. The PE LC promotes peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge and ideas, identifies disparities and implementation barriers, and identifes solutions for State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies implementing the model. The Learning Collaborative approach increases communication, enhances PE model replication, encourages problem solving, and inspires strategies for sustainability.
Progressive Employment Learning Collaborative
The progressive employment learning collaborative brings members together in a cross-state forum to solve problems, identify and apply solutions, and measure outcomes and results through research and evaluation activities.
State VR Agency Members include:
PE LC Structure
The basic components of the Learning Collaborative include:
- 2 to 4 meetings per year;
- regularly scheduled monthly telephone/videoconferences;
- on-site, phone, training and tehnical assistance from ICI staff; and,
- wrap around research and evaluation embedded in activities.
PE LC Members
Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:
Diane Dalmasse (Director), Hugh Bradshaw, Nathan Piper and their teams originated the VTPE model in a small rural state. VT employment specialists and business account managers focus attention engaging and relationship building with local small businesses. VT DVR believes that VTPE offers a series of placement options geared to the skill level of the individual and needs of the business, for example company tours, job shadows, and short-term work experiences. VT DVR has eliminated the idea of “job ready” to state that “everyone is ready for something” and moves evaluation and assessment into real work settings.
Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation:
Lindy Foley (Director), Janet Drudik and their teams lead the PE effort in Nebraska. The PE focus in Nebraska is in the area of “rapid engagement” and has been renamed “The Meet You Where You Are” Model. For clients in the replication model, the average time from application to work experience placement is about 34 days – usually before the IPE is formalized. Nebraska VR has hired 4 Business Account Managers (BAM) responsible for employer engagement and who carry an “employer caseload.” Nebraska VR is the only Learning Collaborative participant that provides employment services directly.
Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services:
Libby Stone-Sterling (Director) and her team leads the PE effort in Maine. Maine BRS serves 10,000 consumers per year in a predominately rural state. One third are transition-age youth and the VTPE replication is specifically targeting this population. BRS relies on CRP’s for job placement and are actively working with CRPs as part of the effort. There is one BAM for transition students in the state, and his primary responsibilities are coordination of team meetings about VTPE and contact with larger employers and big box stores.
- Download the full model replication and evaluation report [working paper]
- View highlights from the 2018 working paper.
- Listen to Maine BRS's radio interview about the success of the Progressive Employment Model for their youth with disabilities.
- View Maine's presentation on Progressive Employment and Work-Based Learning with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates [PPT].
Oregon Commission for the Blind:
Angel Hale (Director) and her team leads the PE effort in Oregon. Oregon CFB works in partnership with businesses throughout Oregon who are committed to hiring/retaining VR consumers who experience vision loss. The main VR office in Portland is piloting VTPE for blind and/ or low vision transition-age youth consumers who have barriers to maintaining employment. Oregon CFB has one Business Account Manager who works to establish meaningful relationships with businesses and host meetings pertaining to VTPE job development and placement.
In August 2021, the Scale-Up Progressive Employment project team welcomed four state vocational rehabilitation agencies who joined the learning collaborative to implement PE. Read their statements below to find out why they are implementing PE in their states.
Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services Division
“Presenting the Progressive Employment model alongside the McDowell Work Readiness/Work Experience program will give us the needed structure, vocabulary and credibility to engage staff, employers, and most importantly VR consumer’s interest to participate.”
Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation
“Progressive Employment will help to promote a better understanding of the middle-skills labor market and employer needs, and how to gain access to work experiences and middle-skills jobs that allow for career pathway opportunities.”
New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation
“The philosophy of PE that "everyone is ready for something" strongly resonates with what we believe at NHVR. We want our agency to have the tools to provide the right services for ALL participants and businesses we work with. Adopting the PE model will enrich the program, make us more diverse and allow us to provide more individualized services.”
New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
“One way we would like to use this model is to develop an internship or work-based learning program for college students, as well as expand opportunities for new graduates. The Progressive Employment Model is a wonderful way to open new opportunities and experiences for CBVI consumers and perspective employers, particularly in more professional positions.”
Monthly Job Development Virtual Conferences:
The ICI in partnership with Vermont DVR, hosted monthly job development virtual conferences about topics specific to those who directly interact with businesses at participating VR agencies. The virtual conferences covered an array of topics that address opportunities and successes in PE job placement and development. Click the links below to access the archives of virtual conferences in this series:
- How to help VTPE consumers through application processes
- Nebraska VR's progressive employment marketing strategies
- How to help VTPE consumers overcome criminal background checks
- VTPE business relations with "Big Box" stores
- KT Casebook article (2020): The Progressive Employment Model Learning Collaborative: An Integrated Knowledge Translation Approach to Communication, Collaboration, and Cross-State Solutions
- Presentation (2019, PEQA): Progressive Employment: Transporting from VT & Testing in NE, ME & OR
- Presentation (2019, VECAP): Progressive Employment – Assessment Practices for Upskilling/Backfilling Individuals Within Career Pathways [.DOC]
- Journal Article (2018): Development of the Progressive Employment dual customer model for vocational rehabilitation
- Research Updates (2018): Progressive Employment Research Updates
- Introduction to VTPE & learning collaborative participants
- Informational VTPE webinar
- VTPE Fact Sheet
- Descriptive paper published by Vermont DVR (2012)