What's New for Vocational Counselors

The latest news

Return-to-work Toolkit Training at Spring Conference

March 20, 2015

The spring vocational conference will focus exclusively on Return-to-work Toolkit Training, developed and presented by Jason Parker. L&I RTW staff that have taken the training find the tools and techniques to be extremely valuable in communicating with workers, employers and medical providers to achieve RTW. You can register now here. For more information on the training see this invitation.

VSS WorkSource Regional Partnership Newsletter

March 4, 2015

Want to know whats happening at WorkSource? Call or email our WS VSSs and ask to be added to their distribution list. You will receive the latest WS L&I Partnership Newsletter noting events, labor market information, and current job openings.

Objective approach to Labor Market Survey

March 2, 2015

Vocational representatives from the Washington Self-Insured Employers Association (WSIA) approached L&I to discuss how to make labor market surveys more objective, how to ensure a more consistent product and how to make them easier to administer. With this goal in mind, the vocational representatives worked with a number of other vocational providers in the community to develop an alternative approach to labor market surveys. A description of this work can be found in this document.

The alternative approach relies heavily on objective labor market data from Federal, State and County resources, while still validating information with specific employers when necessary, for example when the JA doesnt match the physical requirements of the objective labor market data.

L&I believes that all parties can benefit from a more objective approach to labor market surveys. The alternative option presented to L&I appears to provide this objectivity, while reducing burden on employers and VRCs.

Aged AWA Project

February 12, 2015

Starting this month, VSS staff will be reviewing AWA referrals that have been open more than 300 days. They will contact the VRC if appropriate, document an action plan and determine if the referral should remain open or close it as appropriate. In most cases, the VRC will be contacted to collaborate on addressing barriers. A special outcome code will be used when closing some of the referrals. The code may only be used by department VSS staff. The code will be used when no other closing code applies and issues need to be resolved before vocational services can proceed. The code, ADMX will be a neutral outcome for both the VRC and the department vocational performance measure. The VSS will capture information about each claim and document an action plan in RLOG and ORION.

A project like this occurred in 2010 and was very successful in identifying barriers on aged AWAs. We hope that the current effort will contribute to our goal to help injured workers heal and return to work

Private Career Schools

February 11, 2015

Labor and Industries is required by statute (RCW 51.32.099) to use only training providers (schools) that are licensed, accredited, or exempt from licensure and approved by L&I, for worker retraining.

The majority of private career schools in Washington State are regulated by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTECB). Private career schools licensed by WTECB are required to renew their private vocational school licenses on an annual basis and ensure that all program and course offerings are current and up-to-date. VRCs can check the WTECB web site to determine if a private school is licensed.

To help ensure that workers are attending approved programs from approved schools, effective immediately when you submit an in-state retraining plan with a licensed private school you must include a copy of the schools WTECB-approved course catalog. The program identified in the plan must match a program in the approved catalog.

Please note that if a schools program is on the "Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL), also administered by the Workforce Board, then that school may be used, provided the plan matches the program(s) listed on the ETPL web site.

If you have questions please consult with your VSS.

AWA Standard Work Reduces Delays

February 3, 2015

About a year and half ago L&I partnered with the vocational community to develop VRC standard work. Many VRCs have adopted these standards as best practices to help injured workers heal and return to work. We believe this is having a positive effect. AWA progress reports now carry fields where the dates for these activities are entered by the VRC.

  • Please make sure you fill in these fields. As of December 2014 the dates entered on the progress reports are being collected in the L&I data warehouse. This will give us the opportunity to further align vocational services with the agency goal of helping the injured workers heal and return to work.
  • Please note that even with all of the barriers that the vocational community is documenting, you are meeting the deadlines about 70% of the time!
  • Please keep reporting the barriers you are encountering so the department can help you get these referrals resolved and the injured workers back to work.

Thank you for your efforts to reduce delays in our system!

Resume Services

January 29, 2015

As a reminder, Labor and Industries may reimburse vocational providers for providing resume assistance on their open vocational referrals. We believe that this will contribute to the agency goal of helping injured workers heal and return to work. For additional information please see the Vocational Payment Policies in the 2014 L&I Medical Aid Rules and Fee Schedules.

Cell Phones

January 29, 2015

Labor and Industries allows individual VRCs the alternative of listing their cell phone numbers on the ORION vocational referral screen. The goal is to increase effective communication between VRCs and claim staff and contribute to two of our agency goals, helping injured workers heal and return to work and making it easy to do business with L&I. Use the VRC Primary Contact Form for the specific purpose of updating VRC phone numbers. The form was sent to all firm managers last year. If you need a copy, or have any questions, please contact Rheo Aieta at 360-902-5447.

Plan Development Good Cause Extension Requests Changes in the process

December 9, 2014

As you know, RCW 51.32.099 requires that the vocational retraining plan for a worker must be completed and submitted to the department within 90 days of the day the worker commences vocational plan development. The department may extend the 90 days for good cause.

Beginning in December, there will be changes to the format for the Good Cause Extension request via EVOC. The current format has a free-text field labeled Message. The label of this field will change to: What is the plan goal? In addition, there will be three additional free-text fields with the following labels:

  1. What are the specific barriers preventing submission of the plan?
  2. What has been done to address these barriers?
  3. How many additional days are needed and why?

All four free-text fields will be required fields. These new fields will more clearly define the information the VRC must present when requesting an extension. This information will help the VSS to more thoroughly evaluate the request and to determine an appropriate length for the extension. The information will also help the department better understand and address the root causes for delays.

Come and work for L&I!

November 21, 2014

Looking for great work/life balance and the opportunity to make a real difference in the vocational outcomes of injured workers? Come work for the Vocational Dispute Resolution Office at the Department of Labor and Industries. We have 2 job openings in a unit that emphasizes collaboration with other vocational staff, both inside and outside of the department, and we'd love a chance to meet you to discuss this exciting opportunity. Vocational Services Specialists in the Vocational Dispute Resolution office which supports the Director.

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