The role and experience of the job coach: The experience of a nationwide supported employment project
Supported employment has been proven as an effective approach to raising employment rates for people with a learning disability and/or autism, who historically experience low employment rates compared to the general population. Within supported employment, job coaching is a key factor in its effectiveness.
The aim of the study was to explore the views of job coaches on the role, challenges, and effectiveness of supported employment, with a particular focus on the Engage to Change programme. Data was collected from 22 job coaches who participated in focus groups, and 13 job coaches who completed a web survey. All participants were working within the Engage to Change programme that supports young people with learning disabilities and/or autism aged 16-25 years.
The results of the study show that job coaches played a crucial role in helping people with a learning disability and/or autism access a range of pathways to employment. Job coaches provided assessment, guidance, support, and training to help clients achieve their employment goals. Wage subsidies and additional resources, such as assistive technology, were also found to be beneficial. However, some job coaches felt under-equipped in understanding specific conditions and welfare benefits, highlighting the need for more training in these areas. Other barriers included regulations and family attitudes towards welfare benefits, and excessive paperwork.
When asked “what works”, the job coaches surveyed responded as follows:
Needs-led job coach support: 46%
Promoting independence activities: 15%
Employers (funding/financial support): 15%
Work trials/placements: 15%
Job club activities: 8%
It is also important to remember that workplaces changed during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Job coaches had to adapt by using technology to support clients in working remotely, teaching them new job skills, and communicating with employers, which may have had an impact on some of the answers given.
This study highlights the importance of job coaching in supported employment and the need for ongoing training and support for job coaches. The study also highlights the need for more funding to support wage subsidies and assistive technology, as well as addressing regulatory and paperwork barriers. Job coaches are crucial to the success of supported employment programmes, and this study has shown that they provide a wide range of services to help individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism access pathways into employment.
The flexibility and autonomy of job coaches allows them to individualise their support, and the availability of wider resources such as employer subsidies, travel training, and job clubs can enhance their effectiveness. The findings also provide valuable insights for supported employment providers, policymakers and funders to improve the employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
You can read the report here: English report
You can read the Welsh report here: Welsh report