Supported employment for people with disabilities


If you have a disability and wish to take up paid employment or you require assistance in finding a job, the EmployAbility Service (formerly the Supported Employment Service) may be able to help you. It provides people with disabilities with supports to help them access employment. The supports are provided by sponsor organisations on behalf of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection – see ‘Sponsor organisations’ below.

EmployAbility Service

This is an employment and recruitment service to assist people, who have a range of disabilities and impairments, to obtain and keep a job. The Service provides a number of 'on-the-job' supports, such as a Job Coach who will assist both the employer and the person seeking employment. In order to avail of the EmployAbility Service, you must genuinely require the initial support of a Job Coach to obtain employment in the open market – see ‘Job Coach’ below.

The range of supports provided by the Service include:

  • Individual needs assessment
  • Vocational profiling and career planning
  • Individual employment plan
  • Job sourcing and job matching
  • On-the-job support and coaching
  • Advice and support to employers
  • Follow-up support and mentoring to both employers and employees


The Service provides jobseekers with career advice and employment support. Career advice includes identification of skills and assistance with searching for jobs. Employment support is provided when accessing vacancies and applying for jobs. It also includes matching skills with the employers’ needs, work experience placements, finding employers and assistance with integrating into the workplace. The Service provides access to support services when required to maintain employment and advice on employment benefits and entitlements.


The EmployAbility Service’s supports for employers include:

  • Free recruitment and employment service
  • Database of skilled jobseekers
  • Access to a committed, local work force
  • On-going support from a professional team of Job Coaches
  • Advice on employment grants and supports – see below

Employment grants and supports

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection funds a range of employment supports aimed at helping employees with a disability to gain and retain employment. Under the Reasonable Accommodation Fund there is the Job Interview Interpreter Grant, the Personal Reader Grant, the Employee Retention Grant Scheme and the Workplace Equipment/Adaptation Grant. Other supports for employers include the Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme.

Job Coach

Job Coaches offer on-the-job assistance and provide ongoing support to participants before, during and after employment.

If you have a disability, a Job Coach can help you by:

  • Assisting you in identifying your skills, interests and aspirations. This involves sitting down with you and going through a vocational profile of your skills and interests.
  • Helping you to identifying suitable employment where your skills, interests and talents match the requirements of the job.
  • Examining the various tasks involved in the job and planning the various supports you will need.
  • Helping you to develop the technical and social skills required to do the job.

Securing employment

When you and your Job Coach have identified and agreed the type of work you are interested in securing, the next stage is to apply for work. This can be done by either applying for jobs appropriate to your skills and interests that are advertised in the normal way or by your Job Coach helping you to identify and apply for jobs in your area. Sometimes, this can involve your Job Coach contacting employers in your area or in your chosen field of work.

Job Coaches provide ongoing support to participants in a number of ways. For some participants (depending on need), the Job Coach can assist with training on-the-job and provide support in the immediate aftermath of employment, liasing with the person and his or her employer. For other participants, the Job Coach can provide support and advice when they need it.

During a placement the Job Coach provides information, advice and ongoing support to employers. Occasionally, the employer and employee may agree that the employment is not working out. If this happens, the Job Coach can then step in and re-assess the situation with regard to further supports and assistance.

Sponsor organisations

The EmployAbility Service operates through sponsor organisations. Often these are local community and voluntary organisations that provide direct services to people with disabilities. The sponsor employs Job Coaches to provide a range of supports to meet the needs of the individual jobseeker with a disability.


In order to participate in the EmployAbility Service, you must be between the ages of 18 and 65, need the support of a Job Coach in seeking and securing employment and must be job ready. Job ready is defined as "A person who has the necessary training, education, motivation and ability to pursue work/career in the open labour market".


Participation in the EmployAbility Service is free. You do not have to pay for any of the supports you receive as a result of participation in this Service. Anyone who is placed in employment through this scheme has the same employment rights as other employees. Your employer will pay your salary and you will agree the terms and conditions of employment in the same way as other employees.

How to apply

You should register with your local Intreo centre or Social Welfare Branch Office and apply for the EmployAbility Service and express your interest in the Service.

You can read more information in our document, Working with a disability.

Where to apply

Contact your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. You can also contact your local EmployAbility Service directly.

Page edited: 27 March 2018