The benefits



Supported employment consists of the following components: job coach, referral, placement, training and funding. For more information see the relevant sections.



The job coach


The job coach is the person who talks with the client in order to find out what his/her job related desires are, finds out what talents they have that can be used in a job and then finds them a job that matches these requirements. This process of discovery used by the job coach is called Vocational Profiling to distinguish it from testing of traits and aptitudes which exclude many person’s with disabilities from getting a job.


The task of the job coach is not over with finding the suitable job for the person-the third stage of the overall process, after the initial vocational profiling. At this stage the job coach must continue to support the person at his/her workplace by observing and helping in the process of his/her adjusting to the job and integration among colleagues. He/she is a mediator between the client and his/her employer. The job coach is the leading person in the process and the one who takes the initiative, but is always looking for ways in which they can support the employer and their staff to lead the process. Ultimately, the job coaches’ role is to withdraw, leaving the person independent and successful in their job with an employer who is happy with the worker. He/she also provides meditation between the client and his/her patents and other relevant agencies.





Referral is the process through which a client reaches the supported employment service. There are different systems and organisations which do this in different European countries, although common to all will be the use of public money to fund the supported employment service.





Once a client reaches the supported employment service he/she has a series of conversations with a job coach, spending time together in a range of settings to help the job coach be clear about the client’s job preference. Then the real job-hunting on behalf of the client starts. The aim is to find the job that meets the clients requirements, a job where they can be helped to work well. In supported employment the job should be real work, for the going rate of pay,  in an integrated setting. Supported employment is not volunteering, nor is it working in sheltered workshop environments.


To find a job for a person with intellectual or mental disability is not an easy task even in the more supportive Western European societies. Job coaches have to have good technique in supported employment, and be inventive and each of them gradually creates his/her own problem solving strategies in order to ensure placement for his/her clients. For people with intellectual disabilities, having training in systematic instruction is important. This involves: breaking down tasks into teachable components; linking these steps together; and using powerful teaching techniques to leave the person working independently to the employer’s standards.



Training of staff


Training is an essential part of the supported employment service. Practice shows that a “train the trainers” approach is the best one for ensuring sustainability. “On the job” training applies as much to people who will be job coaches as it does to those they will then support. With regard to content, one model is providing a course for five days which would cover the basic skills a job coach will need and then five more days over time to provide more detail on specific aspects of the role. Another option is to develop a working programme: the employer arranges in-house courses for his/her job coaches, they go and do field work, and come back to the course and discuss. This is the best way as training delivers direct outcomes for clients,  but it requires a longer commitment. However it is organised, the training must include – how to do a vocational profile, working with employers, task training and working in social context-including especially the role of the family and the social care and protection systems.


In training, and indeed onwards, the manager figure is very important – he/she should have a very clear idea about work and what should be done.





Funding is partly a question of funding sources. In the UK, and elsewhere, services are often co-funded, essentially from either the social care or the social protection system. There is no dedicated source of funding for supported employment but funding is tied to results.


It is also a question of funding criteria.


First, a definition of supported employment can be created and it could be paid to supported employment agencies to deliver that and check the quality of what they do. The agencies must be accredited and for the funding they should provide paid, full time jobs in the community with enough time for in-job training envisaged. The second method of funding in the one used in the United States and under it the funding is outcome related. The payment is made in several transfers. The agency is paid for creating a vocational profile of a person, then it receives a larger payment when the person gets a job, and a further payment if the person is still in the job after a number of months to reward good job matching. Higher rates of payment are provided if the person has a more significant disability and needs more intensive support. The agency is paid only for results. It is however difficult to start a service without some initial money to pt in place the staff and infrastructure.


It is advised that an agency starts with funding for at least three years and at the third year an evaluation should take place.


Another important aspect of funding is that evidence shows that supported employment is the most cost-efficient service. There is no expenditure on costly service infrastructure such as buildings and, as persons with intellectual disabilities enter paid employment they contribute to the economy of the country and pay taxes, rather than stay as receivers of services. Their family carers are enabled to work and to contribute to the economy as well.

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