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European Union of Supported Employment Toolkit

Supported Employment is a method of working with disabled people and other disadvantaged groups to access and maintain paid employment in the open labour market. This method of working is a proactive policy in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

This paper will define the differences with this methodology and other support mechanisms currently being used around Europe and will provide the position of the European Union of Supported Employment regarding the values, standards and process of Supported Employment

The concept, principles and values of Supported Employment are based on the early work from North America which demonstrated that people with significant learning disabilities could perform a variety of complex tasks, highlighting the potential and capabilities of people with learning disabilities to participate in paid work in the open labour market. Due to the success of Supported Employment assisting people with learning disabilities to access and maintain employment, the model was developed and expanded to include all areas of disability and disadvantage.

In the late 1980's, the model transferred across the Atlantic to Europe and a number of disability organisations in various European countries successfully piloted Supported Employment projects funded mainly under European Union programmes such as Helios and Horizon.

The European Union of Supported Employment (EUSE) was formed in 1993 and has developed its structure since that time. The definition of Supported Employment in Europe is recognised as:

"Providing support to people with disabilities or other disadvantaged groups to secure and maintain paid employment in the open labour market"  European Union of Supported Employment 2005.