SocialCompetence and Employment of Retarded Persons

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Journal/Book Title/Conference

International Review of Research in Mental Retardation




Academic Press

Publication Date



Vocational competence may be viewed as the product of three interacting factors: (1) job responsibility, (2) task-production competence, and (3) social vocational competence. Job responsibility refers to behaviors that suggest a commitment to the job, such as being punctual, low absenteeism, and working continuously at job tasks. The second factor, task-production competence, refers to the production of work tasks to company standards for accuracy and for expected rates. Social-vocational competence, a third factor that contributes to vocational competence, refers to the adequacy of an individual's interactions with co-workers or supervisors. These interactions may be directly related to an individual's ability to get along with other workers. This chapter addresses research that has attempted to identify and describe social factors related to the employment success (i.e., social-vocational factors) of mentally retarded individuals. To examine how social competence relates to vocational competence, it is necessary to understand the parameters that define “social” as well as the dimensions that determine “competence”. Generally, social behaviors have been regarded as those behaviors that directly influence the behavior of others or as behaviors by two or more individuals with respect to a common environment. Recent examinations have characterized social behavior in terms of a distinct set of learned skills. That is, social behaviors such as smiling, acknowledging, questioning, or any number of gestures might be combined to produce social skills or social repertoires. Social skills in the workplace may include offering assistance to others, clarifying instructions, or working cooperatively. Individual social skills are important if they contribute to co-worker or employer judgments of overall vocational competence.

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