Abstract Disabled people are amongst the most excluded in society, while people with learning disability have the lowest rates of employment. Supported employment promises to address the gaps, but it is a new approach, one whose development has been incremental. The present authors explore some of the features of agencies providing employment support to disabled people, together with their managers’ views. This paper describes semistructured telephone interviews with the managers of 31 employment support agencies. The survey sought to understand the types of service provided, the staff and caseload numbers, the training offered, and the targets used. The authors also asked the managers what would help them in delivering employment opportunities to disabled people. The responses of the managers highlight gaps between current policy and practice. Particular attention is given to the use of targets, fragmented funding and what managers consider is required to improve employment opportunities for disabled people. Managers endorsed the vision expressed in current policy, and identified numerous obstacles to its implementation in employment support. Taken together, their views can be used to guide the development of supported employment.