Friday, October 9, 2009

Employer Collaboration and Coordination

Today, publicizing our work and organizations through “new media” such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube has become the norm. Like many of you (and if you haven’t already you will soon), I completed media training and found myself on blogs, podcasts, and videos. Now I admit I find technology interesting and am pretty savvy about promoting my work as a grants officer at Kessler Foundation, which funds employment opportunities for people with disabilities through our “Transition to Work” initiative. Yet, I often find myself suffering from information overload — too many sites to visit and so little time.

Now just imagine you are the hiring manager at a local company. It is particularly overwhelming from a human resource perspective to recruit job seekers with disabilities. Where are they? It is common knowledge that an employer’s willingness to hire individuals with disabilities is ultimately influenced by easy access to a large job pool of qualified applicants.

Some employers may turn to the Internet. Web access has spurred the growth of job boards specifically marketing to people with disabilities. Sites such as,, and, enable consumers to post resumes and apply for advertised jobs. Companies seeking recent college graduates look to and

State vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs and community rehabilitation providers are forming new marketing initiatives with business to promote recruitment and hiring of people with disabilities. In New Jersey, the MOSAIC Center Disability Employment, a pilot program funded by Kessler Foundation, is a single point of contact linking job seekers with disabilities with employers seeking qualified workers. It is a no-cost service that matches candidates’ skills and work experience to available job opportunities.

Bergen County College, the lead project partner, recently received federal dollars to expand its outreach beyond the disability community to include other minority populations. What makes this project unique is that the 16 founding partners grew to over 30 cooperating organizations. Its collaborative partners now are a diverse group of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations such as rehabilitation providers, recruitment companies, Chambers of Commerce, One-Stop Career Centers, Workforce Investment Boards, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

You may say this concept is nothing new. That is true — except many collaborative employment partnerships remain active only on paper. This group meets face-to-face regularly and actually talks through issues that could throw the project off track. Like anything else, there are challenges, especially in this difficult economy.

MOSAIC is a project that has been operating quietly for almost a year…and seems to be working. It is a win-win project for all — saving employers time by providing skilled job seekers that are screened and appropriate for their openings and connecting greater numbers of people with disabilities to jobs.

Elaine Katz

Vice President of Grant Programs and Special Initiatives, Henry H. Kessler Foundation

Co-author of the NTAR Leadership Center research brief, Collobrating and Coordinating with Employers


  1. Elaine, The websites and programs you've mentioned are of little help to job seekers in South Jersey. It is a continual frustration for me as an I & R person in this area. Any hope in site?

  2. Paulann:
    It took quite a while for agencies in other parts of the state to come together and collaborate. I suggest that you may want to take the initiative to bring together a diverse group of organizations (social service, transportation, vocational, parent advocates etc) that see employment as a common goal. This may lead to a number of outcomes such as a collaborative project which can apply for public/private funds, sharing of current resources, referrals within the network for jobs, shared training etc. Until agencies within the same geographic area work out their petty squabbles and "play in the sandbox together", everything will remain the status quo. This is more than just a "funding" issue.