Innovative Practice 2021 on Inclusive Employment and ICT

Assigning job coaches for young jobseekers with intellectual disabilities

The Cope Foundation supports people with intellectual disabilities and/or Autism across Cork City and County, Ireland. In 2018 it launched the Ability@Work initiative to offer individualized employment support and job matching for young people with intellectual disabilities by assigning each of them a job coach. In 2020, 70 people were registered for the programme and another 44 had already been supported to find paid employment.

“I work on the Cork City Bus Tour. I never thought I would get this job, but I am proud that I did!”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Ability@Work
Organisation:Cope Foundation
of Implementation
Ireland – Cork
Start Year2018
Sub-CategoryA project of Civil Society


  • 26 participants are undertaking work experience placements in 2020
  • Paid jobs found range from four to over 20 hours a week
  • All are paid at least minimum wage (€10.10 an hour)


There is a lack of targeted employment support for young people with intellectual disabilities at key transition points.


Ability@Work works with young jobseekers aged 18 to 29 with autism or intellectual disabilities. Each jobseeker is assigned a job coach, who then works with the person to develop an individual employment plan including vocational profiling, to complete a job task analysis, to connect them to local employers, and to apply for relevant jobs that match their profile. The programme also includes weekly job clubs for participants, internships, and paid employment. All documentation is available in Easy Read format. Jobs are in hospitality, tourism, office support, retail, The Arts, factories, childcare and transport to name but a few.

Ability@Work offers disability awareness training to employers (co-delivered with people supported by the Cope Foundation), support with recruitment, adaptations, and ongoing monitoring and support.

Between 2018 and 2020, 44 people found work through Ability@Work – ranging from four to 20 hours a week – all at minimum wage or above. Twenty more participants are in work experience placements.

A young man in a black tracksuit with a red cap and rainproof jacket stands in front of a tour bus with Cork City Tours written on it. He is looking at the camera and smiling.

Dale O’Sullivan poses in his uniform as a tour guide assistant for Cork City Tours.


Ability@work received €614,000 over three years from the National Ability Programme, co-financed by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund. Ability@Work is funded until July 2021, and is one of 28 Ability programmes across Ireland working with various cohorts.

The Cope Foundation wants to secure further funding to expand the programme to the 400 people they support in other programmes who are ready to work. It plans to introduce a certified qualification to train more staff to become job coaches, and an app is being developed to provide remote support to participants as they enter and retain work.


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