Defining Customized Employment

Customized employment is a process for achieving competitive integrated employment or self-employment through a relationship between employee and employer that is personalized to meet the needs of both. It is a universal strategy that benefits many people, including people with disabilities who might not have found success through other employment strategies. In 2014, customized employment was included in Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as a strategy under the definition of supported employment.

ODEP’s Role in Advancing Customized Employment

In 2001, ODEP began implementation of a five-year customized employment initiative through American Job Centers in targeted states. Today, ODEP supports customized employment through education, outreach, and collaborations that promote the benefits of using customized employment as a workplace flexibility policy.

Strengthening the Workforce System through Customized Employment

ODEP has helped American Job Centers incorporate customized employment into their menu of services. The resources below demonstrate the effectiveness of this process:

A Compendium of Federal, State, and Local Implementation of Customized Employment

Formal adoption and implementation of customized employment policies and practices is growing among state and local agencies, especially to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities and other significant barriers to employment. This living compendium will grow to document new adoptions and implementations of customized employment strategies, with real-life examples of policies, staff and provider manuals, Medicaid waiver language, fee structures, and other capacity building techniques as they become available.


Discovery is the foundation for securing customized employment. It is a qualitative process aimed to better understand job seekers by understanding their strengths (potential contributions to employers), their needs (the features that need to be in place for success), and their interests (providing a direction to the type of work that the individual wants to do). ODEP worked with national subject matter experts to develop a series of resources focused on discovery targeted to specific groups.