Innovative Policy 2021 on Employment and ICT

Municipality-funded work coaches for people with disabilities

The Supported Employment Service is part of the health and social care services offered by the City of Helsinki. Established in 1995, it offers individual work coaching for people in autism spectrum, developmental or other disabilities while they look for work, as well as once they are in the workplace for as long as needed. At the same time, employers are supported in getting subsidies and adapting their workplace. From 2016 to 2019 the programme has supported between 240 and 273 users per year.

“My job coaches supported me every step of the way. I think I am what an employee should be.”

About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:Supported Employment Service
Responsible Body:City of Helsinki
of Implementation
Finland – Helsinki


  • In 2019, 71 per cent of the participants found work
  • In 2019 118 new employment contracts were made via the service
  • When hiring a person with disabilities the employer receives pay subsidies usually 50 per cent of the costs from the government


There is a lack of individualized employment support for people with disabilities to find work.


The Supported Employment Service is open to people aged 18 or over with a developmental disability, autism spectrum disorder, speech and language development or other disability. The work coach and jobseeker jointly map out skills, job options, and support needs. This directs the job search, whereby work coaches provide support identifying suitable roles, completing applications, and attending interviews. Once a person is employed, work coaching continues in the workplace, with the goal to reduce support over time. If necessary, support can be requested again after the coaching has been completed.
In addition, the Supported Employment Service provides support to employers, such as applying for pay subsidies (ranging from 30 to 100 per cent) and reasonable adjustments. Employers can also receive a bonus of €1,500 once employment has lasted 16 months. Jobseekers found employment for example in restaurants and catering, mailing services, and property maintenance, ICT, retail and logistics.
Between 2017 and 2019 the annual number of people who found work through the programme annually increased from 163 to 195.

Two young men stand leaning on a decorative wooden shelf and smiling. The word ‘Helsinki’ is behind them on the wall.

Kalle and Topi enjoy a break at Helsinki City Hall from their summer jobs of recycling and organizing the archives.


The programme’s annual budget in 2020 was €804,000 and is entirely funded by the City of Helsinki. In 2020 the City of Helsinki received additional grant funding of €1,022,000 through a project supported by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to make supported employment accessible to a larger number of users.
The model is based on international best practices originated from the United States and Sweden in the 1990s and has been adapted to local circumstances ever since. The model has proven to be replicable.


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