Defining Employment Specialist Competencies: Results of a Participatory Research Study

  • Carina Teixeira
  • E. Sally RogersEmail author
  • Zlatka Russinova
  • Emily M. Lord
Original Paper


The preponderance of research conducted on supported employment has focused on the structure of interventions with little empirical investigation into the contribution of employment specialists to work outcomes. Using a participatory approach, we identified competencies essential to the role of the employment specialists, operationalized and refined those competencies using the perspectives of experts, service recipients, and employment specialists themselves. We conducted an online survey with 34 candidate items and n = 142 respondents. Results suggested good psychometric properties, stability and coherence of the Vocational Practices and Relationship Scale. A total of n = 23 final items tapping the working alliance coalesced into a strong factor, as did strategies for promoting vocational recovery, suggesting that the scale warrants wide-scale testing for predictive validity. We consider these constructs and competencies to be a potential blueprint for training employment specialists, not only in technical skills and strategies, but also to increase the hope for vocational recovery among those they serve.


Provider competencies Employment specialists Vocational recovery Instrument development 



This paper was developed with support from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research ARRT 90AR5018 as well as the Dudley Allen Sargent Research Fund of Sargent College at Boston University. NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this project do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, SAMHSA, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The authors are grateful for their support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carina Teixeira
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Sally Rogers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zlatka Russinova
    • 1
  • Emily M. Lord
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Boston University Center for Psychiatric RehabilitationBostonUSA
  2. 2.University of GreenwichLondonUK
  3. 3.VA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA

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