Supported Employment Services (SEMP) assists and supports individuals with developmental disabilities to train, obtain, and maintain employment or self-employment.

The Supported Employment Services program provides assistance and support for people with varying developmental disabilities in several ways, from prevocational training and counselling through job placement and job support. An individual will be eligible for Supported Employment Services if the following criteria are met:

  • The individual has expressed an interest in acquiring competitive employment for themselves
  • Competitive employment has been identified as a goal in their individualized service plan (ISP)

Additionally, if the person is already employed, they are eligible for Supported Employment Services if:

  • They are employed in the general workforce, in an integrated workplace
  • They are earning at least minimum wage
  • Extended Supported Employment Services is necessary to maintain employment or achieve employment goals identified in the ISP

Employed SEMP participants must be paid at or above the federal minimum wage. When an individual is first hired by an employer the SEMP service provider must collect paperwork (paystubs, payroll record, other documentation) confirming that the pay earned is at least minimum wage. If the minimum wage is increased, the SEMP service provider must again present paperwork confirming that the pay earned continues to be at least at the minimum wage.

Supported Employment Services Programs and Services

Supported Employment Services offers a variety of programs and services to individuals, meeting their needs at various stages and levels of the employment process. Some of the assistance programs offered by Supported Employment Services (SEMP) include:

Vocational Training

Vocational training is a term that refers to educational programs or courses that focus on the skills needed for a certain job function or trade. Unlike traditional education, vocational training focuses on preparing students for specific occupations while ignoring traditional, unrelated academic courses. Vocational training, also known as Vocational Education and Training or Career and Technical Education, offers hands-on, job-specific training that can lead to certification, a diploma, or even an associate’s degree. Students need vocational training to prepare for a variety of trades, including but not limited to:

  • Automobile maintenance
  • Plumbing
  • Cooking
  • Welding/machinery
  • Computer/Information technology (IT)
  • Electricity
  • Masonry

Career Development

The process of self-awareness, investigation, and decision-making that shapes ones profession is known as career development. Supported Employment Services (SEMP) assists in navigating various career possibilities in order to select and train for professions that match a person’s personality, talents, and interests.

Career development also entails learning about various professions and industries in order to find one that matches a person’s skills, looking for possibilities to grow, and possibly changing occupations altogether if needed.

Job Retention Strategies

Supported Employment Services helps individuals by identifying and practicing different job retention strategies, so that once a suitable employment opportunity is iselected and commenced, the new employee will be able to make a valuable contribution t the place of employment and remain employed. Some job retention strategies that will be discussed include:

  • Be on time for work, and call in if you know you will be late or absent
  • Try your best, and complete all assignments
  • Show a positive attitude at work
  • Avoid gossip and spreading rumors, and do not criticize your boss or the company
  • Follow the rules set forth by the place of employment

Job Placement Activities

Job placement activities may include a variety of different items, depending upon the job desired. Some of these activities include:

  • Compiling and completing a resume to be able to present to potential employers
  • Completion of employment applications, which may be both online and off-line
  • Practice mock job interviews to be prepared for actual job interviews
  • Prepare for and participate in actual job interviews
  • Submit post-interview letters, thank you notes, additional paperwork and information, etc.

On-the Job Training

On-the-job training employees how to execute their jobs more successfully by utilizing current workplace tools, machinery, documents, equipment, and expertise.

On-the-job training, or OJT, is a hands-on way of teaching employees the skills, information, and competencies they’ll need to do their job. Employees learn in a setting where they will be required to put their newly acquired information and abilities to use.

Travel Training

The professional activity of educating people to travel independently on public transit is known as travel training. Travel training is most typically provided for those with cognitive or physical challenges, and it is done one-on-one or as part of group teaching.

Some of the approaches used in travel training include:

  • System orientation — gaining familiarity with the buses, trains, and other modes of transportation
  • Familiarization — an individual or group trip on local transit accompanied by a travel trainer
  • One-to-one training in the field — the travel trainer walks the trainee through the steps of taking a specific trip

Travel training emphasizes safety, wayfinding, and system orientation. Travel training is a way to increase confidence and independence, increase socialization, improve community access, increase access to health and wellness opportunities, and encourage the use of fixed-route transit over paratransit when possible.


The Supported Employment Services program may also include services and supports for those people who would prefer to achieve successful self-employment. This self-employment may include a viable home-based self-employment. The services may include:

  • Assisting and advising a person in finding and evaluating a potential business opportunity suitable for them
  • developing a business plan to crystallize and itemize the steps and necessary action steps for the potential business
  • finding and engage with various community resources that could assist the individual in operating a business
  • providing continuing support and assistance once the business has been created

Please note that the service provider is not permitted to hire employees or purchase supplies or equipment for the firm.

Individuals pursuing self-employment are exempt from the minimum wage requirement. According to Department of Labor rules, wages earned through self-employment may be less than the state or federal minimum wage. Individuals who are self-employed may need to show paperwork from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), such as a tax return, business financial statements, or other documents that show they are self-employed.