Progressive Employment

ExploreVR’s Progressive Employment web portal serves as a hub for research, dissemination, training, and technical assistance for model implementation. 


Success Stories


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Learning Collaborative


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Content Experts


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About the Progressive Employment Model

The Progressive Employment (PE)model is a dual-customer, team approach that uses work-based learning strategies to meet the needs of businesses and jobseekers with barriers to employment. Originating in Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in 2009, the PE model is targeted at jobseekers with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, and other barriers to employment, including limited to no work history, corrections involvement, substance abuse issues, and other qualities that may signal risk to a business.

PE places emphasis on how VR business relations and job placement personnel interact with employers. PE is predicated on a dual-customer philosophy, making information about  business engagement  key to better serving VR consumers in finding work experiences while ensuring employer needs are optimally met by the VR program. The PE model is fundamentally based on the premise that businesses should be partners and clients of VR for the process to work most effectively. 


Progressive Employment: 

  • Believes that everyone is ready for something
  • Embraces that small success leads to further success
  • Provides flexibility and creativity based on each person or employer’s situation
  • Ensures low risk for both the employer and the participant
  • Eliminates the need for consumers to be “job ready”



For more information about PE, contact  For media inquiries, email


The ICI is home to a multidisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners whose work is geared toward establishing Progressive Employment as an evidence-based practice that improves employment outcomes for populations with barriers to employment. This work is conducted through several federal grant projects: 

  • RRTC on Demand-Side Strategies in Vocational Rehabilitation (2012-2018): The Vermont Progressive Employment Model Replication and Evaluation study.

  • Work-Based Learning Model Demonstration: Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (2016-2021): Progressive Employment and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates Model Demonstration for Transition-age Youth.
  • Progressive Employment for Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities: Field-Initiated Research Project (2017-2020): Progressive Employment Impact Analysis and Fidelity of Implementation Measures.
  • Scale-Up Progressive Employment: Development project (2020-2023): Build VR agency capacity to adopt PE through a Learning Collaborative approach and virtual learning resources.
  • Center on Scaling-Up Progressive Employment (2024-2029): Scale-up Progressive Employment in additional settings and study the model as a community-level intervention.



The contents of this web portal were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90IFRE0009).  NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The contents  do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.