By Zandy Dudiak, Communications coordinator
Employers—from health care providers to trucking companies—are getting desperate for employees, according to a July 22 story on Axios.com. The website reports that, “The share of job postings that use words like ‘hiring urgently’ has spiked over 50% since the start of 2021, according to data from the jobs site Indeed.”
Pittsburgh Mercy’s Supported Employment Program has 115 persons served who are willing and ready to work. To be eligible for this service, individuals must be at least 18 years old. The program’s employment specialists can help those we serve find, get, and keep a job.
The job seekers are not placed into jobs, stresses Nicole Mackey, Supported Employment supervisor. They seek regular competitive employment, assisted by the program’s four employment specialists.
During intake, the specialists ask several questions in order to construct a career profile. The persons served range from those with no GEDs or high school diplomas to professionals with PhDs. Some are high functioning; others are not.
Nicole says the employment specialists find out the person’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses so that they can design an IEP (Individual Employment Plan) that highlights the person served’s goals toward obtaining a job/career.
The specialists help the person served find job opportunities and then assist them in applying online. They can even accompany the person to the job interview.
“We can help out with the job search, do mock interviews, select clothing for the interview, and assist with résumés and cover letters,” Nicole says. “We help them to navigate the community.”
To provide that kind of support, they have to disclose to the employer that they have a disability.
If they choose not to disclose, the specialists will coach them and help them to prepare what to say.
Although all persons served by the Supportive Employment Program need a mental health diagnosis to participate, the program operates on zero exclusion system. For instance, if a treatment team member won’t give a referral because the person is struggling with a substance use issue, the person can do a self-referral.
Referrals come from Service Coordination, Psych Rehab, Outpatient, Residential, and other external Pittsburgh Mercy sources. Community Treatment Teams (CTT) have their own employment specialists and do not refer to the Supportive Employment Program.
Nicole used to be a service coordinator, so she understands how colleagues are helping individuals with food security, housing, health care, and other issues.
“You get burned out wearing so many hats,” she says. “If employment is one of your client’s goals, just pass that hat on to me.”
Another program goal is helping those served to keep their jobs. The employment specialists collaborate with the treatment teams to see how the person served is progressing. They also encourage persons served to send notes of thanks to their interviewers.
If any colleague has a referral or knows of job openings for persons served, please contact Nicole at NMackey@pittsburghmercy.org. To access the referral form, click here.