Work plays a pivotal role in how we define ourselves and how others define us. Work is an integral part of our overall life experience.
Traditionally, people with disabilities had few options for any employment. Protective workshops seemed to be the only solution for families who were mistakenly led to believe their disabled loved ones could never contribute to society.
Meaningful employment is about more than a salary. It is about enjoying daily work activities, collaboration and fellowship. It gives us a sense of direction and purpose and impacts our overall quality of life.
The practice of supported employment is now widespread. Supported employment assists people with disabilities who struggle to find or keep a job independently. It is a model of employment that provides appropriate and ongoing support to help people with disabilities succeed in a competitive work environment.
What is Supported Employment?
Supported employment is about helping people with significant disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, mental health and traumatic brain injury, secure and maintain paid work.
Through supported employment, job coaches, co-workers, business supervisors, and mentors are utilized to provide support for persons with disabilities.
Businesses may hire valuable employees, and people with disabilities can find long-term, sustainable employment.
Employees work for a fair wage and applicable employee benefits in a competitive workplace.
Benefits of Supported Employment
Benefits to Employees
Confidence and Sense of Self-worth
With the proper guidance and support, individuals with disabilities can experience a significant boost to their confidence and their abilities.
Supported employment includes finding jobs suited to an individual’s likes and aptitude, adequately preparing them for and to attend an interview, and connecting them with their employer.
Job coaches and mentors give supported employees the onsite training required to carry out their work efficiently and alongside peers without disabilities. Supported employment boosts confidence while teaching individuals self-sufficiency and independence.
Supported employment is real work with actual pay, which helps individuals with disabilities create more fulfilling lives.
While people with disabilities make up 12% of the U.S. working-age population, they account for more than half of those living in long-term poverty.
Where 73% of working-age people without disabilities are employed, only 32% of working-age people with disabilities are employed. This means two-thirds of the 17.9 million working-age adults with disabilities depend on an income support program.
Because supported employment pays a fair wage, it helps lift individuals with disabilities out of poverty. Plus, employed individuals are less likely to rely on social services.
Improved Employment Outcomes
Research shows that disabled individuals enrolled in supported employment benefit from more competitive and higher-paying employment opportunities than those not enrolled in supported employment programs.
Supported individuals benefit from more competitive salaries and are 40% more likely to obtain competitive employment than their peers in other job-readiness training programs.
Improved Cognitive Function
Placing people with disabilities in a work environment where they can learn and develop new skills improves cognitive, social, and employment outcomes.
Research shows that many people with disabilities, placed in workshops where they perform repetitive tasks, stop learning new skills. When workers only associate with people with disabilities and are not continually challenged at work, they may be delayed in their development.
Benefits to employers
People with disabilities possess remarkable capabilities that allow them to succeed in various industries. What’s more, the life challenges that many people with disabilities have experienced give them resilience that can benefit any business.
Diversity and Inclusion
Many businesses recognize that employing people with different abilities through inclusive employment practices is morally right.
But research has shown many benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Today’s consumers base their spending decisions on an organization’s ethics. That includes true inclusivity in the workforce. Consumers want to feel good about where they purchase products and services. Businesses that walk the talk indicate a social conscience and responsibility.
Highly diverse, inclusive companies enjoy the commercial benefit of employing individuals with different abilities.
Customers want to support businesses that align with their values and ways of life. Customers with disabilities are more likely to buy from companies with a disability-inclusive workforce.
There are numerous benefits of gainful employment for people with disabilities. Supported employment is an effective way to provide an individual with a disability with increased earnings and dignity, and improve the quality of their social relationships.
The most significant benefit is that it is often the first step toward a better quality of life.