Why a Competency Focus?

In an era where funding agencies and clients served are expecting excellence in their services and high-quality outcomes, expectations of employment staff are high. Professionals in these roles must quickly learn how to handle all aspects of their jobs. While every organization in the country has thoughts about the best way to train staff, there is much variability as to the quality/quantity of training and skilled trainers available. In order to promote best practices in the field of employment, ACRE encourages the use of competency-based training. 


How were the Competencies Established?

Since ACRE began, its members were interested in creating training that was competency-based. We must give credit to APSE (the Association of People Supporting Employment First), a national organization that has promoted community employment for people with disabilities since 1988, for doing the first work on the development of competencies. APSE assembled nationally recognized experts in the field to establish the first set of competencies for employment providers. These competencies covered the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively in the field of employment for people with disabilities.

ACRE embraced these APSE competencies, and then refined and expanded them. Once finalized, these competencies allowed us to develop a process for curriculum review and approval. The expanded competencies included multiple approaches to employment for people with disabilities, including competitive employment, Customized Employment, supported employment, transitional employment, etc. Additionally, these competencies were broken down into 2 levels (Basic and Professional), in order that training could be developed for a basic level of knowledge and skill as well as a professional level of knowledge and skill. In 2013, ACRE revised the Employment Services competencies, to keep in line with the revisions that APSE had mades to its competencies, and in 2021, ACRE released an updated version of the Employment Competencies.


The 2018 ACRE Competencies with an Emphasis on Customized Employment

In 2018, ACRE released is brand new set of competencies with an emphasis on Customized Employment. Similar to how ACRE began developing its competenceis based on the work of APSE, this time ACRE began with the work of the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) and the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC), who created a document entitled the Essential Elements of Customized Employment. The new ACRE competencies are a melding of the original Employment Services competencies with the Essential Elements of Customized Employment. These new competencies are seperated into 2 levels (Basic and Professional) in order that 2 levels of training curriculum could be available.


ACRE-Endorsed Curricula

Any organization wishing to offer training for any type of ACRE national certificate, must go through an approval process. ACRE compares curriculum submitted against the competencies. Content must be covered in enough detail to build the knowledge and skills of the professional being trained. Once approved, that ACRE member organization may offer training and award the national certificate. Trainees (professionals working in the field of employment) who satisfactorily complete all the required training and all assignments, based on instructor approval, are awarded a Certificate of Achievement. The names of all trainees who are awarded the ACRE Certificate of Achievement, are listed on the ACRE website in the Certificate Registry.


Benefits of Taking ACRE Approved Training?

  1.  ACRE trainees have the opportunity to earn a national certificate in employment services, and have this training as a way to prepare to take the national CESP exam administered by APSE.
  2.  Meeting state standards/requirements. Some states require some standard of training and/or a recognized certificate.
  3.  Have their names listed on the ACRE Certificate Registry.


Click here ACRE Employment Competencies to gain access to ACRE’s competencies document.

Click here ACRE Competencies with an Emphasis on Customized Employment (CE) to gain access to the 2018 competencies document.  


ACRE often receives requests for information on Certification Options. Given that ACRE does not offer Certification Programs, it is important for Employment Professionals and Training Providers to be aware of the following.

APSE has established a certification program for Employment Support Professionals. Now, employment professionals can become a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) by passing the CESP exam. For more information on the CESP exam and requirements go to: APSE Website.