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First impressions of work as an employment specialist

The work of an IPS employment specialist is diverse and challenging. The work is guided by quality criteria which research has found to be the key to the model’s success. Petra Korpelainen transferred to the IPS project as an employment specialist after five years working as an occupational therapist at HUS Psychiatry.

How did it feel to start work as an IPS employment specialist?

Awesome! During my continuing education, I had heard about and become interested in the IPS operating model. When the opportunity came up in January, I immediately applied to be an employment specialist in the project. Just as we aim for in the IPS job search process, my interests and the needs of the job market matched up well when I got this job. It feels great and significant to be involved in promoting the employment of people living with mental health disorders.

What has been surprising for you?

It has been surprising that the employment specialist does not have any other rehabilitation tasks. In order to maintain high quality, an employment specialist can have a maximum of 20 clients. In addition to searching for jobs, the work also involves contacting employers and participating in collaboration meetings and team meetings. It was also surprising to me that IPS client relationships are not limited to duration or number of meetings.

What have you found to be good about the IPS model?

The order of first placing the client then supporting them, meaning that they are first placed in a workplace. Once in a workplace, they can receive ongoing support for the work. It is also good that the job seeking is tailored to the clients’ personal interests and needs, and I like the way the client is actively supported to commit to the process. We have a top-class team, and the support from them has been good. I am also positive about the opportunities for bringing together employment coaching and psychiatric care.

What has been challenging?

The most challenging and exciting aspect of the work has been quickly finding jobs on the open labour market and building relationships with employers. The aim is to build a professional profile and to get a first employer contact during the first month of service.  

What is interesting about the work?

It is interesting to see and hear how the model works and what kind of feedback we receive. It is also interesting to familiarise oneself with a wide range of sectors and employers, and to see how the integration of psychiatric care and the TE Office’s employment coaching is carried out.

What are you looking forward to this autumn?

I look forward to creating more relationships with employers. I also look forward to providing individualised, side-by-side support to the clients. I have participated in the planning and piloting of the peer support group, and it will be interesting to see how this goes. I am expecting that the project will make the IPS model more familiar through the website and social media channels, for example and through our contacts with employers.

In addition to shaping the role of the employment specialist, the IPS quality criteria also guide the composition of the team, the organisation of the employment coaching, and the processes involved. Quality assessment is carried out regularly and is based on both self-assessment and external evaluation.

In the article series ‘Life as an employment specialist’, you can follow the experiences of our employment specialists in their everyday work.