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Supported employment - part one

29 Apr 2019

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By Nic Moore, Disability Training and Consultancy Specialist, Remploy

With the Government strategy to halve the employment rate between disabled and non-disabled people by 2027 (which will mean another one million people with disabilities in employment) and the changes in special education provision (preparing for adulthood outcomes, in particular employment) education providers, local authorities and employment service providers are using supported employment approaches to achieve employment outcomes for their service users/jobseekers. 

In my role in training design and delivery around disability and health in employment, I have seen an increase in demand for bespoke training and other training relevant to those working in this sector such as ‘Training in Systematic Instruction - TSI’ (which I will discuss more later), this new-found interest has led me to create this series of blogs around supported employment.

So whether you’re just interested in knowing more about supported employment or you work in this sector, I think now is a good time to look at what supported employment is, and re-visit this important employment model and review: why supported employment and what are the benefits? 

Why supported employment - what is it?
Supported employment (which is also referred to as: place, train and maintain) was developed to support people with significant disabilities, in particular, learning disabilities, to access paid jobs in the open labour market ie. ‘a real job and paid at the going rate’, its benefits in supporting wider disability groups and disadvantaged groups is clear, including those with a mental health and/or autism. The core principle of supported employment is that anyone can be employed and have a paid job if they have the correct level of support.

Benefits of supported employment
At Remploy, we know that traditional job finding methods are not accessible nor effective for those who need extra support. Simply jobs matching or searching at a desk, well ‘simply’ doesn’t work. Supported employment seeks to discard the ‘job readiness model’ and implement the ‘place, train, maintain and then fade’ approach. This means job searching activities take place at the earliest opportunity with the jobseeker. They are then supported to learn the skills required for that workplace or task in the natural environment (where the task takes place) and encouraging involvement from natural support systems (co-workers) support is then gradually faded as and when the person achieves independence in the workplace. 

We truly believe in the place, train, maintain and fade model and know from experience that when implemented the rewards for not only the individual(s) you are supporting but as an organisation, are amazing. Seeing that person reach and maintain independence in the workplace and recognised for their ability and knowing you played a part feels good!

Supported employment is underpinned by a set of ‘rules’. By rules, I mean having a values structure and an ethical approach throughout the supported employment journey which, amongst many things, promotes respect, empowerment, choice and control, dignity and social inclusion for the individual. 

In supported employment, there are two ‘main’ customers:

  • Jobseeker - tailoring services to meet the individual’s needs 
  • Employer - recognising employers as equal customers and helping them understand the benefits of supported employment (a diverse workforce) can often be overlooked.

The supported employment model
We should view supported employment as a journey which includes the service provider, jobseeker and the employer working together for the same aim which is to get the right person for the right job with whatever support is necessary. We know that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ (for jobseekers and employers) and having services that are flexible to meet those needs we know can be challenging. As previously mentioned, a strong values structure ‘rules’ is essential. Working within a framework that supports the values is the European standards of good practice in supported employment.

Five step framework in supported employment


As part of our portfolio at Remploy we deliver a course called Training in Systematic Instruction (TSI). Those that work in this sector may be familiar with this course. For those that aren’t, in a nutshell, TSI is a structured approach used by those working with or for people who require additional support to learn practical skills and is effective for teaching both vocational and independent living skills (and like supported employment, TSI is underpinned by a values structure). 

This fantastic training approach fits into the ‘in work support’ element therefore would be potentially used at the end of the supported employment journey (or for retention purposes). However, quite often in my experience whilst delivering this course to those working in this sector, a lot of discussion can focus on other ‘problems’ such as: understanding different disabilities and their impact, how to get to know the person they are supporting, barrier handling, job finding approaches and the big one - employer engagement! In reality, when delivering supported employment there are a number of steps that get us to the end goal of supporting a person into a sustainable job and helping them to become a competent and valued member of the workforce.

Please join me on my next blog that will focus on client engagement, vocational profiling and job finding. 

If you are interested in finding out more about TSI, and how Remploy can help you protect your greatest asset… your people, then please contact us.

About Nic
During my 16 year career with Remploy I have had a range of roles, including working directly with people with disabilities to support them into employment and supporting my colleagues, employers and stakeholders. I have a wealth of experience and expertise in disability and employment in particular mental health and neurodiverse conditions. 

I have for many years provided consultancy and training to organisations across all sectors in building disability and mental health confidence in the workplace to deliver improvements to attraction, recruitment, employment and retention processes.

I am a Training Accredited Practitioner (TAP) in Training Delivery and E-Learning Design, and also accredited to deliver Training in Systematic Instruction, NVQ Assessor (ESS) and a Mental Health First Aid accredited instructor. I am also involved in the design and delivery of disability-related training as well as developing and delivering bespoke training solutions for The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and North Yorkshire County Council (Supported Employment). 

You may also be interested in reading our previous blogs on Consultancy - what does it really mean? & Consultancy - how does it work in practice?