The focus of this article series is to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the multitude of support services offered by a Vocational Expert, specifically in the legal arena.
In part 1, we explored the qualifications of the vocational consultant, defined the term earning capacity and presented the many advantages of enlisting the services of a vocational expert early on in the process.
We will, therefore, continue in that discussion through this installment and explore the roles of the vocational expert in the provision of services, which can best be described as a dual role:
1) The consulting relationship with the client
2) Consultation in litigation and education of the parties in the courtroom.
In the initial part, the vocational expert must relay the primary and secondary purposes of the referral and the vocational evaluation. More specifically, the vocational expert must be disclosed as an evaluator, and not a provider of services (counselor), as there is the potential for a conclusion with which the client may not agree.
In the second part of the process, the vocational expert communicates orally and in written format with the parties and the court. They provide testimony on the vocational evaluation process, conclusions and opinions.
Vocational expert services can consist of the following:
1) Evaluation - evaluate individual's attributes to marketable skills, taking into account Age, physical/psychological conditions, transferable skills; special needs and circumstances
2) Labor Market Research - assess labor demand, access employment opportunities, determine wage levels and gather statistical data.
3) Vocational Planning information- outline steps to achieve a specific vocational goal, identify training programs, costs, establish reasonable time lines, identify potential barriers to employment in vocational planning
4) Vocational Expert Opinion: Determine earning capacity; evaluate the client's potential to maximize self-support, provides findings in a report, testifies on the vocational evaluation process and renders opinion(s).
When medical/psychological impairments exist, the vocational expert evaluates the impact of the impairments on vocational issues and assesses the individual's ability to engage in vocational/academic training and subsequent gainful employment.
How can you benefit from utilizing the services of a Vocational Expert?
Vocational Experts can also establish "reality" in earnings. Wages tend to be seen in a subjective context often in preliminary legal proceedings. It is imperative, therefore, to assess the actual facts of each specific situation to reveal the objective data, requiring a careful and thorough vocational evaluation by the vocational expert, in a timely fashion, early on in the process.
The Vocational Expert not only provides services through a) evaluation, b) consulting, c) research, and d) testimony, but he or she is also a great resource to other services offered in the community.
The inherent characteristics of listening, communicating, educating and motivating are not only the essence in conflict resolution they make-up the core elements of the Vocational Expert.
Author, consultant and educator Jamie Charter has been providing employment and litigation consulting services for 23 years through Charter and Company employer resource consultants in Soquel, California.
Jamie is available to assist your organization with direct service and customized training.