Vocational consultants are not needed on most of your worker’s compensation claims; just the severe claims. When an employee has a level of permanent partial disability, to the point that the impairment from the injury will prevent the employee from returning to work, a vocational consultant is required.
Vocational Consultant Evaluates Ability of Injured Employee to Work
A vocational consultant evaluates the ability of the injured employee to work and then assist the employee in finding employment within the physical limitations of the employee. The typical course of the vocational process is for the vocational consultant to perform a vocational assessment including vocational testing, perform a labor market analysis, a transferable skills analysis and assistance with job placement.
To access the injured employee’s ability to perform a different occupation, vocational testing is used. Testing to measure the employee’s educational achievement, aptitude, interests, and level of intelligence may be used to gauge what the employee’s skills are. These tests are the first steps in a vocational assessment for the employee.
The vocational assessment for each employee is done on an individualized basis. To make a complete evaluation of the injured employee’s abilities, the vocational consultant will:
- Complete a detailed interview to obtain the employee’s background information on formal education, trade schools, prior work experiences, interests and hobbies
- Based on the results of the detailed interview of the employee, a transferable skills analysis will be completed
- Vocational testing to verify the level of the transferable skills the employee has will be completed
- Vocational testing to identify other skill sets the employee has but did not express or disclose
Based on the results of the employee interview and the battery of tests administered to the employee, the vocational consultant assesses the employee’s educational level, skills, interests and abilities. This assessment will include:
- Educational achievement
- Vocational interest
- Vocational function level
- Aptitude/talent level
- Intelligence level
- Personality traits
Vocational Consultant Identifies Potential Jobs
The vocational consultant will analyze all the interview and testing information obtained about the employee and will complete what is known as a transferable skills analysis. Subsequently, the vocational consultant will identify occupations or jobs the employee will be able to perform at the level of permanent impairment the employee has using the transferable skills the employee has.
Before the use of computers, the vocational consultant had to manually review numerous (often hundreds) types of jobs to try to find one or more jobs the employee could perform. With the advent of computer programming, the injured employee’s physical limitations, prior training, and vocational testing results are compared to the requirements of thousands of job descriptions. The vocational consultant will obtain a listing of all the jobs the employee can perform with his physical limitations and existing abilities.
Utilizing the list of jobs the employee can perform with his impairment, the vocational consultant will complete a labor market survey to locate actual jobs the employee is capable of handling.
Vocation Consultant Continues Until New Work Is Found
While the identification of occupations/jobs the employee can perform is a big step forward, if there are no jobs available, the injured employee will continue to receive workers’ compensation indemnity benefits as he remains off work. The vocational consultant then becomes a career coach assisting the employee in locating jobs to apply for, providing guidance on how to interview for the jobs, and providing support and direction to the employee in the job search. The vocational consultant will continue to work with the employee until the employee is hired by a new employer.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.
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