Mcfrank & Williams

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Month: November, 2013

Challenge to DoL on disability hiring

Workforce Locator™ features U.S. Talent Acquisition data. Workforce Locator provides business intelligence with broad overviews that recruiters can narrow to determine their optimal geographic targets.

In one of my recent postings, I suggested organizations challenged by a goal to hire individuals with disabilities can consult Workforce Locator as a starting point to determine the appropriateness of work from home initiatives they may then create for new telecommuting opportunities – because such efforts could serve as a solution that may possibly comply with an “aspirational goal” that the OFCCP claims is not a quota for hiring disabled individuals – and telecommuters who happen to be disabled might be exceptionally productive in response to an opportunity to work from the comfort of their own homes.

From all that I’ve read, it still seems as if it will be quite the challenge for the construction industry to comply with a goal that will be a “rule” as of March 2014.

I’m not confident whether some of the concerns that have crossed my mind are truly valid, yet I can’t help wondering if construction companies who don’t consider the possibility of a telecommuting option would be making a mistake… I wonder if construction companies with sites and buildings that are in a rudimentary process of construction are currently required to have their own sites be fitted with ramps and wheelchair accessibility for the construction workers and/or site inspectors they employ?

I don’t know enough to understand what’s truly important. I realize the thought I expressed (without the benefit of prior research regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and construction company site compliance) may be trivial in scope. Nevertheless, I tend to think those who happen to have a stake here, may want/need to be more aware of the challenges they’ll be subject to regarding this goal/rule, and any legal action they file should encompass a multitude of difficulties they’ll encounter in their efforts to be compliant…

Perhaps this paragraph from a Department of Labor Characteristics Summary is worth citing as case in point:

> The employment-population ratio for persons with a disability was 17.8 percent in 2012, unchanged from 2011. The ratio for those with no disability increased from 63.6 percent to 63.9 percent. The lower ratio among persons with a disability is due, in part, to the fact that a large share of the population of persons with a disability was age 65 and older, and older persons are less likely to be employed. However, across all age groups, persons with a disability were much less likely to be employed than those with no disability.

Here’s the WSJ report published online that inspired my posting today – it’s about a trade group “seeking to exempt construction companies from parts of a new rule requiring federal contractors to prove they are taking steps to hire minimum numbers of disabled workers.”

Trade Group Challenges Labor Department Rule on Disability Hiring


Melanie Trottman

Nov. 19, 2013

A construction industry trade group filed a lawsuit against the Labor Department Tuesday, seeking to exempt construction companies from parts of a new rule requiring federal contractors to prove they are taking steps to hire minimum numbers of disabled workers.

The Associated Builders and Contractors said it isn’t challenging the “legitimate affirmative action and nondiscrimination objectives” of the 40-year-old Rehabilitation Act, which requires most federal contractors to provide equal employment opportunities for qualified disabled workers. But the trade group’s lawsuit clearly challenges the Labor Department’s updated method of achieving those objectives.

The suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to exempt the construction industry from the data collection and analysis requirements of the rule, on the grounds that these requirements exceed the agency’s congressional authority, will be burdensome, wasteful and unprecedented, and “are likely to drive many construction contractors out of the market for government construction services.”

The group said that by subjecting the construction industry to these provisions, the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is ignoring long-standing differences between non-construction contractors and construction industry contractors. Construction industry contractors employ a uniquely fluid and temporary workforce, the lawsuit said, and have thus been previously exempted from similar forms of data collection and analyses that have otherwise been required for tracking minorities and women.

“You can’t collect data on the disabled the same way that you can with minorities and women,” said Maury Baskin, a Washington, D.C., lawyer with Littler Mendelson P.C. who represents the contractor group. “We have an issue with the way they are redefining affirmative action after 40 years, contrary to congressional intent,” Mr. Baskin said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Tuesday.

The lawsuit is also challenging the Labor Department’s decision to set a target for the percentage of disabled workers employed by a federal contractor. The agency has said the 7% number is a goal, not a quota. But business groups have said they disagree and fear their members risk losing contracts if the members don’t meet the target.

“We’re challenging the arbitrary setting of a number,” Mr. Baskin said. “There is no magic number. There’s never been a magic number and yet there’s been affirmative action for 40 years,” he added.

While the trade group is asking the court to issue an order that makes it unlawful for the construction industry to be subjected to the Labor Department’s data collection and analyses provisions, “in reality, there’s no statutory authority for what they’ve done period,” Mr. Baskin said.

The trade group’s Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr said in a statement that the group and its members “support nondiscriminatory practices toward individuals with disabilities on government construction projects and we will remain committed to placing these individuals in good construction jobs.” The group, based in Arlington, Va., is a national association representing 22,000 members from more than 19,000 construction and industry-related firms.

A spokeswoman for the Labor Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, suggesting instead to refer to the agency’s Aug. 27 news release about the rule. In that release, the agency said it was updating the requirements under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act as “an important step toward reducing barriers to real opportunities” for individuals with disabilities. The agency also said the updates would “make it easier for employers to tap into a large, diverse pool of qualified candidates.”

The final rule becomes effective March 24 of next year.


Early Career Development – business leaders, educators focus on programs with emphasis on *earlier* career development

Published by me on October 19, 2013

> School, Industry, in sync for workforce development

> Workforce Locator™ can be described as a tool used by corporate Talent Acquisition teams to obtain Talent Acquisition data, but it’s more than that. For instance, with new positions that are being created in growing STEM fields, Educators/Curriculum Planners at State Universities and smaller Community Colleges can consult Workforce Locator to become more cognizant of SOC (standard occupation codes) and design corresponding programs that meet future work demands.


Published by me on August 6, 2013 (citing article by author Byron Pope):

> David Grimmer, president-Denso Mfg. Canada, says young people in North America aren’t interested in manufacturing because of an incorrect image of what the jobs entail, noting the auto industry has a “branding challenge” it must address.

> Grimmer says the industry should follow Japan’s lead, which targets students in junior high school by selling them on the opportunities the manufacturing industry offers and, in some cases, even putting them on the payroll.

> “A lot of people talk about training academies, and that’s great,” he says. “But let’s take it a step further and get young people interested in the idea and concept of technology and manufacturing.”


The article I’m referring to in my headline for today (Early Career Development – business leaders, educators focus on programs with emphasis on *earlier* career development) was published today, November 18, 2013, by author Winthrop Quigley for Albuquerque Journal Business – online in ABQJournal dot com:

These are the snippets from “Business leaders, educators hone future workforce” that caught my eye and influenced me to post the ABQJournal piece:

> Albuquerque charter schools ACE Leadership High School and Health Leadership High School invite the employers who will hire their graduates to help design school curricula, train and mentor students, then evaluate student progress.

> ACE stands for architecture, construction and engineering.

Here are those snippets in context:

Some business leaders worry that the workforce they need in the 21st century might not be available in high-school graduating classes.

Other business leaders are working to be sure high-school graduates know what they need to know to make it in their industries.

Albuquerque charter schools ACE Leadership High School and Health Leadership High School invite the employers who will hire their graduates to help design school curricula, train and mentor students, then evaluate student progress.

“We don’t assume we know what business professionals need,” said Tori Stephens-Shauger, ACE Leadership principal. “We are experts at teaching and learning. They are experts at their businesses.”

With help from businesses, the schools try to teach “what’s really happening and what industry wants 10 years from now,” she said.

ACE stands for architecture, construction and engineering. The school’s advisers include representatives of Associated General Contractors, Jaynes Corp. and JB Henderson Construction.

Stephens-Shauger said these experts tell educators that it is not enough to teach a student plumbing or carpentry.

“They told us, ‘We want communicators, innovators, collaborators and problem-solvers,’” she said.

Industry professionals know a construction project contains elements of accounting, marketing, politics, economics and public policy. So ACE Leadership, with industry help, designs projects for the students that incorporate thinking and problem-solving on all of those elements.

More skills needed

It isn’t enough any longer for health-care workers to know how to take blood-pressure readings and draw blood, said Michelle Melendez, director of workforce training for First Choice Community Healthcare.

“The only way to increase the health status of our communities is to be involved in and address the social determinants of health,” she said, such as poverty, education, employment, neighborhood conditions, culture and diet.

“I interview young people at least a couple of times a week. We were not getting the caliber of applicants for the entry-level jobs we needed.”

They didn’t understand the role First Choice is trying to play in improving community health, and they were missing what Melendez called “soft skills” – understanding, listening, communication – and even some basics like computer and reading skills.

When the New Mexico Center for School Leadership decided to organize Health Leadership High School, which began this school year, it invited dozens of industry representatives to help define what the school should do.

“They asked, ‘What is the ethos of the sector? What is so integral that the person needs to know and believe to be a contributing partner in the sector?’” Melendez said.

“Right now, people work in isolation,” said Gabriella Duran-Blakey, Health Leadership High School principal. “We need workers who can collaborate in all domains of health care. They need the ability to solve problems.”

The school’s advisers say students need to understand how the places we live, work and play and how city infrastructure and public policies affect health. They need to know how to work with clients of the health-care system. And they need to know how health-care systems work, from how work is organized to how medical bills are paid.

Real-life assessment

For example, Melendez said, if a doctor tells a patient that to help control diabetes he needs to eat more fruits and vegetables and take a long walk three times a week, is that even possible in the patient’s world?

Health Leadership students survey their own neighborhoods to answer that question. They might find loose dogs threaten pedestrians, crime keeps people locked up in their own homes, and air pollution makes breathing difficult.

They look at neighborhood maps and try to locate stores that sell whole wheat bread and fresh vegetables. They learn that the world where the patient lives might make it hard to exercise and eat properly. Then the students work together to explain their findings and identify solutions.

Students all want to be either a pediatrician or a veterinarian when they start the program, because those are the only health-care providers they have ever seen, Duran-Blakey said.

Health Leadership is showing students there are many ways to work in health care by taking classes to visit pharmacies, phlebotomists, members of Doctors Without Borders, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and zoo veterinarians. Health-care professionals are regular visitors to the school.

“Our projects have to come from what is happening now in the profession,” Stephens-Shauger said. “It can’t be a simulation or a contrived project.”

When the projects are finished, the business advisers evaluate the students at school.

“It’s arrogant for any educator to think that an educator alone or policymakers alone are good enough to decide if the student is good enough to get a high school diploma,” Stephens-Shauger said.

The evidence is that standardized tests that educators and policymakers have relied upon to judge student success haven’t worked, he said. Industry doesn’t hire the graduates because they aren’t prepared.

“The people who do the work know it best,” Stephens-Shauger said.

Hire Vets and Military Spouses

Workforce Locator™ enables population searches by SOC (standard occupation code). Armed with such info, Talent Acquisition Teams might use HCM assessment tools to identify candidates with soft skills for leadership and team building roles – but those teams should be quite particular about the accuracy of any assessment tool. If they’re Talent Acquisition Pros who really “get” Moneyball recruiting, they’d be open and questioning individuals, likely to have read Glen Cathey’s excellent piece on his blog, Boolean Black Belt:

September 26, 2011 | Big Data, Data Science, Moneyball Recruiting, Sourcing, Sourcing and Recruiting:

The subject header for my posting today refers to a Fox News report on the goal of hiring vets and military spouses; I mentioned assessments because many HR professionals embrace the use of assessments. I’d lean toward mistrusting existing one size fits all assessments for individuals whose exposure to combat situations may have profoundly impacted the way they see civilian life. I don’t know this for certain, but I tend to think we don’t have reliable analytics for that (yet). However, I’d personally be up for/more trusting of integrating empathetical observations to the “data science” mission of matching returning vets and military spouses to civilian opportunities. Anyway, those are my thoughts after reading these snippets from the Fox News item about SBUX and other companies hiring vets:

> Gates said veterans “bring with them extraordinary skills” including logistics, supply chain management and electronics, as well as leadership experience.

> He said that matching these military skills to equivalent jobs in the civilian work place “does require a little bit of effort” but that “it can be done.”

Here’s the full article:

Starbucks to Hire 10,000 Vets and Military Spouses

Posted on: 12:01 pm, November 6, 2013, by CNNwire, updated on: 12:03pm, November 6, 2013

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Starbucks is the latest big company to announce an aggressive push to hire veterans returning to the civilian work force.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said on Wednesday that it will hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was appointed to Starbucks’ board of directors last year. He told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, “We know that many men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a difficult time finding career-fulfilling kinds of positions. Over the next five years another million men and women will come out of the military and enter civilian life.”

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said his company also plans to open five stores on or near military bases that will share their profits with the local communities. And, he added, “as a small gesture,” all vets and their spouses will get a free tall brewed coffee on Veteran’s Day.

Other companies have launched ambitious plans to hire veterans, including UPS, JPMorgan and Walmart. Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, has said that it expects to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018.

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan have a higher rate of unemployment than the general population. The unemployment rate for the general population was 7.2% in September, according to the most recent government figures available, compared to 10.1% for veterans who have served since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Veterans are often lauded for their courage under fire and valuable combat experience. But many find it hard to translate their combat infantry experience into the civilian job market.

“Being the best mortar man in the best battalion in the world doesn’t mean a whole lot when you come out,” said Sean Parnell, veteran of the Afghan war and author of “Outlaw Platoon,” in an interview with CNNMoney last year.

Nonetheless, the unemployment rate for veterans has been declining in the last couple years.

Gates said veterans “bring with them extraordinary skills” including logistics, supply chain management and electronics, as well as leadership experience.

He said that matching these military skills to equivalent jobs in the civilian work place “does require a little bit of effort” but that “it can be done.”

The federal government provides a $9,600 tax credit to companies that hire veterans, but that program is slated to expire at the end of the year.

By Aaron Smith

– CNN’s Poppy Harlow contributed to this story.