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?

APSE (the Association of People Supporting Employment First) is a national organization that has promoted community employment for people with disabilities since 1988. APSE assembled nationally recognized experts in the field to establish the first formal 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 Competencies

ACRE embraced these APSE competencies, and then refined and expanded them. These changes allowed us to develop a process for curriculum review and approval. The expanded competencies also allowed for multiple approaches to employment for people with disabilities, including competitive employment, Customized Employment, supported employment, transitional employment, etc. 

ACRE-Endorsed Curricula

There is an approval process required for an organization to offer training yielding a National Certificate. ACRE compares curriculum submitted to the competencies. Content must be covered in enough detail to build the knowledge and skills of the professional being trained. Once a curriculum is approved, that ACRE member organization may offer training and award the national certificate. Students (professionals working in the field of employment) who satisfactorily complete the required minimum of 40 hours of training/professional development and all assignments are awarded a Certificate of Achievement.


Benefits of Taking ACRE Approved Training?

  1.  ACRE trainees have the opportunity to earn a national certification and prepare for the national CESP exam administered by APSE.
  2.  Meeting state standards/requirements. Some states require some standard of training and/or a recognized certificate.


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