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Employment Specialist Competencies for Supported Employment Programs

Abstract

Purpose Supported employment (SE) programs are evidence-based programs offered to people with severe mental illness to facilitate obtaining and keeping competitive work. However, significant variations in individuals’ vocational success may be partly explained by differences in their employment specialists’ competencies. Aim The main objectives of this study were to develop a questionnaire measuring the behaviors, attitudes and knowledge of employment specialists working in SE programs and to link specific competencies to vocational outcomes. Methods A total of 153 employment specialists working in Canadian and Dutch supported employment programs completed the Behaviors, Attitudes, and Knowledge in Employment Specialists (BAKES) questionnaire and provided information about their clients’ vocational outcomes. Results Exploratory Factor Analyses results found 90 items over 12 subscales (e.g., Relationships with employers and supervisors). Regression analyses indicated that the two most useful subscales for predicting vocational success were: (1) Relationships with employers and supervisors, and (2) support and client-centered approach. Conclusion Employment specialists require specific competencies to help people with severe mental illness obtain and maintain competitive employment. Validating the BAKES will better define the broad range of competencies expected for this position, and this tool may facilitate training of employment specialists.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the employment specialists for their feedback on the development of the BAKES questionnaire. This study was in part funded by CIHR (for the recruitment in Canada).

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Correspondence to Marc Corbière.

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Corbière, M., Brouwers, E., Lanctôt, N. et al. Employment Specialist Competencies for Supported Employment Programs. J Occup Rehabil 24, 484–497 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-013-9482-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-013-9482-5

Keywords

  • Supported employment programs
  • Employment specialists
  • Competencies
  • People with severe mental illness
  • Factor analyses