Monday, March 20, 2006

Manpower & Rise: Powering New Opportunities Inside the Workforce

Hey, I’ve got Manpower! Nah, I’m not taking testosterone injections. Nope, I’m not spending an inordinate amount of my time at the gym pumping iron either. And most assuredly, my machismo quotient is well within the statistical reach of Barney Fife, Mayberry’s fearless and "manly" Deputy Sheriff.

Actually, I am referring to a completely different kind of Manpower. I am talking about Manpower, Inc., the largest private employment service company in the world. My employer, Rise Incorporated, just launched an exciting new initiative with Manpower called the Partnership Employment Project or PEP. PEP is the vision of the Rehabilitation Research & Training Center (RRTC) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). A business-based collaboration and employment research project, PEP is sponsored at VCU by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Our PEP site in Minnesota is one of six research locations around the United States studying new approaches to integrating resources and service capacities of private industry and community rehabilitation programs. PEP's goal is to identify new strategies to improve integrated employment in the community’s workforce for adults with a wide range of disabilities. In addition to our site in Minnesota, Manpower’s local branch offices are collaborating with organizations similar to Rise in New York, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. According to VCU, additional research sites may be added to the mix over time to add richness and validity to the study’s outcome results.

So what’s the big deal here? Until recently, I had no idea about the enormous size and reach of Manpower’s employment and business services. This company is absolutely amazing! Check out these details...
  • Manpower is a 16 billion dollar business with 4,400 offices in 72 countries all around the world.
  • It has nearly 60 years of experience in offering staffing recruitment, training, assessment and selection, outsourcing and business consultation services.
  • Many of the company’s clients are world class businesses with a global or multi-national presence; it also serves many smaller companies that are key players in local economies.
  • Manpower offers a wide range of employment opportunities to fit the interests, education, and talents of many different job seekers (i.e., professional, para-professional, industrial, office, retail, service industries, etc.)
  • The company works to tailor employment around the needs of today’s emerging labor force; this includes opportunities to work in ways that better suit the lifestyles and schedules of job seekers (i.e., permanent, temporary, contract, part-time, and full-time).
  • Manpower was named as FORTUNE’S Most Admired Staffing Company for the Fourth Consecutive Year in 2006.
  • The company operates a Global Learning Center that features 3,600 online courses on a wide range of employment topics and job skills; this support service is self-paced and accessible to all of its employees 24 hours a day/7 days per week.
  • Manpower’s vast employment research capacities are used by economists and labor experts to forecast directions of labor markets.

Would you like to hear more? Well, it matters to Manpower that job seekers with disabilities are not presently valued as significant labor market resources. This progressive company is choosing to participate in PEP to encourage better recruiting practices of people with disabilities, educate their business clients about how to take advantage of these untapped labor resources, and work collaboratively with partner organizations like Rise to help customize job placements and work supports within diverse occupational fields.

I was especially encouraged to hear about Manpower’s willingness to explore the possibilities for customizing employment and marketing the abilities of people with significant disabilities to their end-users (business customers). In this demand-side work world, increased opportunities for customization are among our greatest challenges to workforce inclusion. In other words, people with significant disabilities rarely qualify for jobs as conventionally advertised. Therefore, we consider this unique partnership an exciting opportunity to introduce customized employment strategies to businesses and industries where we have had a limited impact. And Rise intends to take full advantage of Manpower’s long history and connections with visible, reputable companies in the Twin Cities' business community.

Presently, we are busy identifying a minimum of 50 job seekers with disabilities who are willing to offer their consent to participate in PEP. We intend to recruit youth and adults with varied interests, abilities, work histories, and education levels. Rise anticipates referring job seekers with developmental disabilities, serious mental illnesses, traumatic brain injuries, deaf/hard of hearing, youth in transition from school-to-careers, homeless individuals, as well as refugees with disabilities in transition from welfare-to-work. Rise will offer Manpower and its business clients a blend of disability awareness education and technical assistance to enhance their employment recruitment and work support capacities. This includes value added supported employment so employees with disabilities who are hired through PEP receive the range of supports they need to achieve job success.

Once we have followed PEP’s recruitment protocols, a minimum of 25 job seekers will be randomly referred to local Manpower offices to participate in the experimental service design. The other group of 25 job seekers will continue to receive active services from Rise and other employment agencies as they normally would. The fundamental goal of PEP is to measure the overall effectiveness and efficacy of our collective job placement efforts for individuals who are assigned to the Manpower research study group. However, PEP will measure employment outcomes that are obtained for both groups. This includes the number and types of jobs obtained, average hourly wages, average number of hours worked per week, job retention percentages, job progression rates, and other qualitative measures such as each group’s job satisfaction ratings. From a research perspective, VCU will collect and aggregate data from all PEP demonstration sites over a long-term duration to determine the value and relative effectiveness in using this business-based service approach.

At Rise, we are honored to participate in this important national research project. And we look forward to helping advance new workforce development strategies to increase the employability of people with disabilities within a wide range of career occupations. Most importantly, we are very excited about having formed this new partnership with Manpower and hoping to carry forward this collaboration once the PEP research project is completed. We have met several times now with Manpower’s management team for the Twin Cities including Regional Director, Michelle Lindberg, and local Branch Office Managers Tonya Calgaro, Nicole Wolverton, Jacquelyn Carpenter, Brenda Svestka, Jessica Lee, Dayna Evenson, Sarah Ackerman, and Suzanne Ridenour. They are truly an impressive group of professionals with a strong grasp of contemporary issues impacting workforce development and our local economy.

OK, I know what you're thinking. All of these "Manpower" representatives are business women. Yes indeed! This company is called Manpower but they seem to understand quite well that the best person for the job is often a woman.

For more information about Manpower, you can visit their International Web Site. For more information about PEP, you can contact Howard Green at Virginia Commonwealth University. If you want to learn more about Rise's participation in PEP, please contact Kari Olson, Project Manager at Rise, Incorporated.

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