Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Impact of Retirements on State Agency Rehabilitation Personnel, 1987-1992

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Impact of Retirements on State Agency Rehabilitation Personnel, 1987-1992

Article excerpt

Impact of Retirements on State Agency Rehabilitation Personnel 1987-1999

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of retirements on. (a) professional and (b) support staff in the Georgia Division of Rehabilitation Services. Results indicate a large number of retirements in professional categories, particularly in leadership and senior level positions between 1987-1999. Attrition through retirement will not be as great in the support personnel category but is compounded by high incidence turnover in specific geographical areas where staff are typically more difficult to recruit.

The state/federal system of vocational rehabilitation grew dramatically during the period 1960-1975, both in program development and in the number of personnel employed by state rehabilitation agencies. This period, often referred to as the "Golden Era" of rehabilitation (Rubin & Roessler, 1987) was characterized by a tremendous increase in the number of professional and support staff employed in state agencies. As an example, data (Sonenshine, 1987) from the Georgia Division of Rehabilitation Services (GDRS) indicates that in 1963 there were 268 professional employees in the Georgia agency; by 1975 there were 1,139. Concurrently there were substantial increases in number of support staff needed. As a result of the rapid growth during a short time span there is growing concern regarding the numbers who will be retiring during an equally short time frame. Estimates of as much as 50% attrition through retirement are commonly heard. If these predictions are accurate it will have serious personnel implications for the Georgia agency, and for other rehabilitation agencies throughout the country since the expansion pattern occurred in all states in the same general time period. If normal organizational development patterns continue rehabilitation agencies can be expected to lose a great deal of the leadership that has been developed over the past 30 years. Since many of the professionals employed in expansion years have now moved into leadership positions in agencies, recruitment of qualified staff to fill the positions vacated by retirement may be difficult for four reasons. The first reason is that funding for the training of new personnel, specifically oriented toward rehabilitation, has decreased since 1975. Secondly, many human services programs, i.e., mental health, addiction program, and others, grew at the same time and will be experiencing a similar retirement phenomenon, thereby reducing the personnel pool for potential transfer to rehabilitation agencies. Thirdly, the private rehabilitation sector has also grown dramatically since 1975 and is competing for the rehabilitation personnel that is being produced by college and university programs. Lastly, since all rehabilitation agencies may be experiencing similar personnel problems and competing for rehabilitation staff to fill vacancies the supply probably will not meet the demand. If these factors prove valid the retirement issue will have profound implications for rehabilitation agencies in the areas of management, program development and administration, professional personnel, recruit ment, training, and future personnel needs which are congruent with the rapidly changing state/federal rehabilitation system.

The GDRS currently employs over 1700 persons in a variety of job classifications. Existing employee records do not include military services or other applicable experience that may be used as retirement credits. As a result, it was impossible to accurately predict the number of personnel that would be retiring over the next 10-12 years or to forecast specific staffing shortages due to anticipated retirements. While the GDRS anticipated an impact on personnel needs, there were no clear indicators of what position classifications are affected, where they are, the magnitude of the problem, and what implications this has for the future. For these reasons the Georgia agency, via contract with the University of Georgia Rehabilitation Counseling Program, instigated a study to collect data that would allow projection of personnel needs during the period 1987-1999. …

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