Picture of Michael Millington
Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant
by Michael Millington - Sunday, 15 March 2009, 06:31 PM
Pardon me while I get up on my soap box for a moment...

Vocational Evaluation was legislated into being just as surely as Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling was, and as soon as it was created, it was pressed into service. Other professions arise out of a philosophy, out of observation of the work of humans and they do so slowly, with the luxury of time to anchor and explore their identities. I believe that this lack of proper reflection is the Achilles heal of our profession. There have been negative ramifications for VR counselors and educators who continue to wrestle with "who we are", but the damage to the discipline of vocational evaluation appears particularly poignant.

When "Vocational Evaluation" was birthed, the philosophy, science, and practice came as an aggregate of borrowed concepts and proceeded forth to defend itself. We have good definitions that reflect a deeper understanding, (Smith et al 1994; see VECAP position paper for direct quote) but operationally,we have tended to equate and confuse the deeper discipline of vocational evaluation with a service model that delivers it (see definition in the encyclopedia of mental disorders). Thus, as the original model of comprehensive vocational evaluation fell out of favor politically, we had no defense for the discipline; as the traditional mode of delivery fell out of favor programmatically, we simply scaled back and watered down the product. Over time, the impact of this unwitting neglect has been a diminuation in training outlets for vocational evaluation, diminished referrals for vocational evaluation, reduction in the quality of vocational evaluations that are produced, the loss of certification, and the fracturing of an ever-shrinking professional identity. Because we failed to embrace the discipline behind the service, vocational evaluation did not evolve, but declined in the face of challenge.

Now is as good a time as any to turn this tide, and to believe that we have a reason to be hopeful. The fact is, however dire the circumstances may appear, vocational evaluation, properly understood, is as resilient as our government's commitment to social justice and the market's support for rehabilitation services. Vocational evaluation, as with all other specialties in the field of vocational rehabilitation, is bound by the fundamental mission of full community inclusion of people with disabilities. The context of course is work, and the instrumental tool by which it serves the mission is evaluation. At it's most fundamental, vocational evaluation is the cognitive aspect of VR counseling. It concerns itself with how we know what we know about our clients, and how we use that information in the most efficient and effective means possible to maximize client inclusion in the world of work and all that the world of work touches. All other definitions build upon this one. Everything else is commentary: You cannot have a legitimate VR system without a viable VE discipline.

While the path forward may not be easy, the direction is clear. It is time to re-invent ourselves in light of this philosophical illumination. There will be comprehensive vocational evaluation services, and vocational evaluators to provide them, but these services must be open to change based on the who, what, where, when, why, and how of community inclusion. Every counselor is an evaluator now, and they are obliged by the fundamental mission to learn the skills of evaluation and apply them in every decision made with or on behalf of their clients. Taken to its logical (and radical) end, every VR client is an evaluator as well, for it is the client who gives meaning to the measures, and who must act upon them to exact inclusion from the community. Imagine how our ranks would swell if we were to realize this community of evaluators. Imagine what science and practice might evolve out of their communion.

My questions to anyone inspired to respond are these (assuming that you buy my premise): How do we rise above the fractured profession and unite? What is required of each individual to build a new vision and to see it brought to life? Forget the leadership, what are you going to do?

Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant by Michael Short - Thursday, 3 September 2009, 07:28 AM
Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant by Kerri Burglund - Tuesday, 22 September 2009, 12:57 PM
Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant by Michael Millington - Tuesday, 22 September 2009, 01:35 PM
Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant by james donaldson - Wednesday, 23 September 2009, 02:49 PM
Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant by Milt Johnson - Wednesday, 30 September 2009, 10:11 AM