Municipality-funded work coaches for people with disabilities
- Supported Employment Service
- City of Helsinki
- Country of Implementation
- Northern Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“My job coaches supported me every step of the way. I think I am what an employee should be.” Rasmus Ellenberg, a pharmacy employee
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.
There is a lack of individualized employment support for people with disabilities to find work.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
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.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
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.