Case studies

Supported employment has brought about improvements in the quality of life of people who have disabilities by enabling them to become active participants in society. It has a positive impact on families and on employers who benefit from the contribution which persons with disabilities can make at work. The strength of supported employment is that it enables persons with disabilities to enter the real world of work by focusing on individual abilities and by providing varying levels of individualized support, depending on needs.


Support and advice is also provided to the employers. Supported employment is also an important methodology for employers to look specifically at how company work processes are organized and helps in the creation of new jobs or the re‐design of existing jobs in ways that facilitate a work role for people with disabilities. 


Case-1: The supported employment model in action


Valeria is working in a shop in Brussels. The employer had no experience in employing a person with a disability and started a pilot for a few hours a week. The employer found out that Valeria could do more than expected. Her working hours are increased and also she is performing more tasks since she start working. Her job is controlling the stock in the shop and warehouse.


An important aspect of the support which is provided by the supported employment organization is stimulation the cooperation with the colleagues. Further monitoring the developments and advising the employer and the employee. Job coaching is provided by the employer.


Case-2: Meeting the needs of the employer through supported employment


In Slovenia is a growing awareness on meeting the needs of the employer by using a customized employment process. This process begins with an exploration phase, which lays the foundation for employment planning. The outcome is a negotiated agreement which meet the needs of both the employer and the job seeker. In many cases a new job can be created.

In Ljubljana a job was create in a restaurant where the job seeker had to take care of the wine stock. This job fits perfect with the job seeker. 


Case-3: The employer in an active role


The number of employers who are willing to hire persons with a disability is growing. It occurs that employers take the initiative to contact a supported employment organization for help in recruiting, placement and training.


In Spain an employer decided to employ persons with a disability but had till so far no experience. In cooperation with the supported employment organization an inquiry was carried out which work was suitable. Candidates were found and trained by the employer on location with help from a tutor (support worker).


Case-4: Creating jobs in the whole company


Big companies and big organizations have the opportunity to develop an employment policy in employing persons with a disability. In the Netherlands a hospital has started a project with the aim to employ 100 young persons with a disability. Those persons shall mainly perform supportive and carrying tasks, such as around bringing meals, keeping the company of patients or working in the kitchen, canteen and as a cleaner.


The realization of these jobs are the result of a redesign of the work processes in different departments, a different way of organizing the work and differentiation in levels of functions which capacities, possibilities and limitations of different groups of employees are taken as a starting point.


Case-4: Customized employment approach


Customized employment is meeting the needs of the employer and the employee. Danilo is working in a restaurant in Italy.

Assessment: The assessment process is a discovery process of 2 till 3 months with the aim to get to know the person very well. Time is spend to explore the unique needs, abilities and interests, as well as the complexities, which are essential to establish successful employment. This is a dynamic approach where the job seeker is controlling the exploration process and captures the preferences and connections in the community.   The job seeker select friends, family and colleagues to participate in the exploration phase so that they can share positive perspectives and potential connections to employment. At the conclusion of the exploration phase, the job seeker makes decisions about the employment goals and potential employers to approach. In this case the outcome was a job in a restaurant.


Job finding: Information gathered from the exploration process is the basis for the customized employment planning. The result is a blue print for the job search. In this case the job had to be found in a restaurant.


Job analysis and matching: An essential instrument in customized employment is negotiating job duties and employment expectations to align the skills and interests of a job seeker to the needs of an employer. The negotiation resulted in a job description that outlines the customized relationship between employer and employee. Options for customizing a job description include job analysis, job carving, negotiating a new job description. In this case the main job is to take care of the wine stock of the restaurant.


Job coaching: Appointments are made with the employer for job supports, the hours of training on the job and specific supervision. In this case the training on the job was handling the wine stock and recognizing a variety of wines.


Ongoing support: The support worker contacts the employer and the employee a few times a month to give advice and help if needed.


Case-5: Supported employment in practice


Alain is working in a drugstore in France.


Assessment: The supported employment organization provides a course of 9 months. During this period an exploration take place about social and labour skills and interests. It's all about getting to know the person very well. Persons from the network of the person involved e.g. family are also involved. Placement in a job is mostly foreseen after this time period. In this case an employment position was open for Alain.


Job finding: The employer, an organization which owns different drugstores in Paris, contacted the supported employment organization to propose candidates for jobs the organization is offering. Alain was selected.


Job analysis and matching: The tasks Alain had to perform were: unpack articles in the warehouse, pricing articles and controlling the quantity. Those tasks fit Alain very well.


Job coaching: The job coach tasks are carried out by a co‐worker of the company. In the introduction period a tutor of the supported employment organization keeps contact with the employer and Alain for advice and help.


Ongoing support: On a monthly basis interviews are carried out with the supervisor and Alain. An observation is also foreseen. The aim of the interview is to identify if and what kind of natural support is needed and how that should be implemented. Appointments are documented in writing. The family receives also support if needed.


Case-6: Supported employment in practice


David is working for the public administration of the City of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

David has autism.  The City of Belfast started a recruitment program of 400 placements for 400 long term unemployed persons, including persons with a disability. A training program started for 45 persons, including 9 persons with a disability. David was selected for this program. The training program includes:

  • one week work experience
  • an interview
  • working in a team
  • practice


To able David to participate in the program he was given support by the supported employment organization. The support was provided prior to the program and during the training.


Job finding and matching: A job for David was found in the public administration where he could perform his tasks in his own tempo. His office was placed in a quiet environment without much distraction. The workload is monitored by a supervisor.


Ongoing support: The supported employment organization provides ongoing support if needed.


Case-7: Supported employment in practice


Oscar is working for a telephone company in Sweden. Oscar has a brain injury. In his former job Oscar was an engineer. Due to his injury he couldn't keep his old job. Oscar is performing well in his new job. His work performance and his relationship with the other workers are satisfactory, even though from time to time small problems arise. Oscar is not able to cope with these. The employment support worker is for many years the same person. Oscar trusts her and she understands Oscar's situation. Oscar is depending on the support which solves the problems. Without this support Oscar couldn't stay on the job.


Case-8: From school to work


Job support in Wales provides a transition to work program for school leavers. The support includes a one to one training on the job. Time is also spending to learn to know the person. This is to find out what the abilities and interests are. Job support is also working with the families. Individuals are assessed and follow training in real work. The project starts with unpaid work experience. A paid job can be realized after time. The time varies from person to person. More than 100 persons with a disability got a paid job in the open labour market in different functions. Job support provides ongoing support with the focus on maintaining the job. The organization carries out this work for more than 20 years. Russell is one of the first employees who maintained his job for more than 20 years now with the same employer.