Toolkit: Effective Business Engagement and Employer Supports

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Effective business engagement bridges the gap between employer demand for an educated and skilled workforce and the supply of workers with the necessary skills for the labor market.

Developing strategic partnerships with businesses means looking beyond the immediate needs of an agency and seeking ways to make local businesses competitive. It requires asking employers more questions like “Where is your pain? How can we help in addressing your challenges?” and fewer questions like “What can you do for us?”

The vocational rehabilitation system is uniquely positioned to provide both quality employment for people with disabilities and workforce solutions that add real value to business. Using effective business engagement practices involves interaction between employers, vocational rehabilitation, and other workforce development and education organizations and results in measurable improvement in desired outcomes for both parties.

The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) offers a toolkit containing information and resources to guide vocational rehabilitation agencies as they support businesses that have employees with disabilities. It includes in-depth information, practical examples, and resources to share with employers:

Business Engagement and Employer Support Functions

  • Learn what distinguishes engaged relationships from narrow advisory ones.
  • Complete an “Employer Supports Self-Assessment” to evaluate the quality of your business services and employer supports.

Models and Functions

  • Review employer support functions and ways vocational rehabilitation agencies can provide employer support.
  • Explore how to develop a shared agency vision and strong plan for internal communication.
  • Learn what models and structures work best for business engagement and employer supports.
  • Get examples of common organizational models and associated roles.

Competencies and Skills

  • Review competencies and skills related to business engagement at the state-central level and area office or district level.
  • Discover key competencies to guide selection and development of staff.

Information Management

  • Learn to collect and use information to build and strengthen VR-business relationships from:
    • Business accounts
    • Case management systems
    • Consumer talent banks
    • Agency performance measures


  • Explore fundamental steps to developing partnerships.
  • Learn how reverse job fairs work.
  • Identify the key players in business engagement.
  • Get resources to identify and access some common potential partners, such as community rehabilitation programs.

Additional Resources

  • Features links to dozens of articles, fact sheets, and websites that can be shared with businesses. 

WINTAC provides training and technical assistance to state vocational rehabilitation agencies, related agencies, and rehabilitation professionals and service providers to help them develop the skills and processes needed to meet the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).