On December 7th, LEAD Center staff launched a new Guided Group Discovery (GGD) pilot focused on veterans by providing a Facilitator Training at a comprehensive American Job Center (AJC) in Clarksville, Tenn. Guided Group Discovery is an innovative way to learn more about a job seeker’s interests, skills, and employment needs/conditions in order to make a connection between the contributions/skills a job seeker offers and the needs of an employer who can benefit from those skills. It is an effective tool for job seekers with and without disabilities because it assesses the job seeker’s abilities and conditions for success, rather than their deficits. It also results in a concrete action plan for reaching the person’s employment goal.
Twenty-one individuals participated in the Facilitator Training at the AJC, representing workforce development, military occupational specialists, state government, Army Career Skills program, the Disability Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP), and the Local Veterans Employment Representative (LVER). Several individuals also participated from the Veterans Treatment Court mentorship program of Montgomery County, Tenn.
The one-day training included information on the LEAD Center Customized Employment Initiative, an overview of Customized Employment, and the use of Discovery/Guided Group Discovery within American Job Centers. Trainers reviewed the Facilitator’s Manual, including activities on assisting people to identify broad vocational interests/themes, as well as what they can contribute to an employer. The session also discussed strategies for identifying specific individual conditions for employment, including accommodations that may need to be requested, and the sometimes complex and important topic of disclosure, and how to discuss (or frame) information that is personal and sensitive.
In a module on the Art and Science of Networking, participants learned how to introduce the concept of networking and to map personal contacts. The end of the day concluded with next steps for the facilitators in terms of developing co-facilitator partnerships, identifying veterans who can benefit from GGD, and planning for implementation of additional GGD pilot projects.
Through the Tennessee Guided Group Discovery Project, LEAD Center is training facilitators, many of whom are also veterans themselves, to co-facilitate Guided Group Discovery with small groups of veterans seeking their next career now that they are out of the military. GGD encourages interagency collaboration to meet veterans’ needs. This might include vocational rehabilitation, behavior health supports, housing, continuing education programs, and more. Veterans who participate in GGD will be supported by the facilitators to develop a Blueprint for Employment to guide their job exploration and job search. The Blueprint helps job seekers identify their interests, skills and contributions, conditions for success, and support network. The Blueprint information is used to target specific job opportunities that “fit” the job seeker and also benefit the employer.
LEAD Center Guided Group Discovery materials include a Facilitator Manual, an accompanying PowerPoint slide deck (Introduction and Course), and a Participant Workbook. Please visit the LEAD Center website for additional information.