Individual Placement and Support: Competence Framework and Curriculum

The Individual Placement and Support: Competence Framework and Curriculum documents will help employment specialists to better support clients with mental health problems to gain employment.

In The NHS Long Term Plan and The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, NHS England and NHS Improvement made a commitment to rapidly expand access to individual placement and support (IPS) across England. University College London (UCL) and the NCCMH were commissioned by Social Finance to produce a competence framework and curriculum to recognise the highly skilled nature of the work of employment specialists and to drive consistency in training standards.

What is individual placement and support?


The IPS model assumes that anyone with a mental health problem who expresses an interest in employment should be supported to pursue it. People with severe mental health problems can find it challenging to enter (or to re-enter) competitive employment, yet evidence shows that with the right support and job match, they can gain paid employment. The IPS model supports them by assigning an employment specialist who will help them to find and keep a job.  

Specifically, the IPS employment specialist:

  • works with people accessing the service (IPS clients) to find employment that matches their aims, interests and skills, and offers continued support once they are in post
  • integrates with the mental health team to support the client with any issues that affect their work and recovery
  • builds relationships with employers to negotiate job opportunities that suit their clients.

Why individual placement and support is important

The IPS approach is internationally recognised as the most effective way of supporting people with mental health problems to gain and keep paid employment. It is based on over 20 years of research, including around two dozen successful randomised controlled trials

How to navigate the documents

There are four documents related to our work on IPS. Each document is described below with a link to the relevant PDF. The materials are free to download, distribute and use, as long as the NCCMH is acknowledged as the author.

The guide introduces the IPS model and provides a rationale for using this approach when working with people with mental health problems. It also explains how the competences and curriculum have been developed.  

Download the Individual Placement and Support Competence Framework and Curriculum: Guide (PDF)

The IPS competence framework outlines the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are relevant for IPS employment specialists and groups them into 32 competences.

Download the Individual Placement and Support Competence Framework (PDF)

The IPS competence framework map organises the competences into eight domains and shows how activities fit together and need to be ‘assembled’. An interactive map linking to each competence is available on the UCL website.

Download the Individual Placement and Support Competence Framework Map (PDF)

The IPS curriculum provides a comprehensive, structured programme of learning to enhance employment specialists’ knowledge of the theory and application of IPS. It is divided into three key sections:
  1. Underpinning areas of knowledge
  2. Professional competences
  3. Putting IPS into practice.

Download the Individual Placement and Support Curriculum (PDF)

For any questions about these documents, please contact Kaycee Meads (kaycee.meads@rcpsych.ac.uk).

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