What is Supported Employment/Vocational Rehabilitation?

Supported employment is a tailored model to assist persons with disabilities in securing and maintaining employment. The approach uses a partnership that enables physically challenged people to attain sustainable long-term employment and business ventures that allow them to hire valuable workers. The supported employment model is becoming more helpful in assisting mentally challenged individuals, young people leaving institutions of higher learning, people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, and ex-convicts seeking to start a new life after imprisonment. On the other hand, the responsive business model, which is part of the supported employment, states that providers have to be business-minded and should not approach businesses from a social viewpoint.

In the business model, the program operators work to secure qualified candidates who meet the job requirements and then endeavor to protect the resources to provide the necessary service needs of a given candidate for a given job. The supported employee model requires the only successful candidate for a given position to have a disability (Wehman, 2012). Therefore, in the supported employee-focused model, the program operators first seek a job. They look for a candidate who would best suit the placement while on the responsive business model, the job seeker begins employment immediately and receives the support needed. In contrast, they are already working (Leach, 2002). However, the program operators must identify the funding necessary to provide employment-related services in both modes.

The supported employment models are being used to provide benefits to working for people with developmental disabilities. Therefore, various types of reinforced employment models will focus on and define their differences. Firstly, the individual placement model offers a job in a community to a person with disabilities or a business that suits them. In this case, the individual is trained on the job site, where they acquire the much-needed skills and work-related behaviors by a placement specialist. As such, the training grows the individual’s confidence and allows them to socialize and perform their duties adequately (Leach, 2002). The support provided by the employment professional is based on the person’s needs.

In this model, the vocational rehabilitation agency is available to help retrain for new work assignments and assist in dealing with the challenging behaviors that arise from the supported employee. Another model is self-employment this is different from the individual placement model since the person with disabilities gives maximum support to start and operate their own business (Hughes & Rusch, 2009). In essence, the employment support providers identify the needs of the individual to maintain their business.

In conclusion, the employment support models have greatly helped people with disabilities secure and maintain their jobs. Physically challenged individuals have shown that they only need support and training to perform their duties effectively. Notably, the employment support providers equip the employees with the necessary skills to complete a given work. They play a significant role in securing employment for individuals who find it hard to get placements due to their conditions. The models discussed through the support providers have helped people with disabilities set up and manage their businesses with the skills they have been equipped with. Therefore, it is imperative to note that anyone can perform any duty if provided with the necessary skills and support.



Leach, S. (2002). A supported employment workbook: Using individual profiling and job matching. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Rusch, F. R. & Hughes, C. (2009). Overview of supported employment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 22(4), 351-363.

Wehman, P. (2012) Supported employment: What is it? Introduction to Special Issue, 37, 139-142.


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