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Learning the integrated approach in supported employment: German trainees in Austria

Anna Herweger and Lucia Witt, both trainees at Association Culture & Work, prepare the meeting of the Supported Employment partnership in Speyer, Germany, in April. Both trainees study social pedagogy and would like to work with disabled persons after their degree. As a start for preparing the Speyer meeting they were asked to check the national reports of the European partners in order to find out what kind of information and site visits would be most interesting for the European partnership during their visit in Germany.  Part of the preparation was a visit to Austria in order to bring back experiences for the meeting in Speyer. 
 
Their supervisor drafted a questionnaire in order to let them reflect about their experiences. These are their answers:
 
Which examples of supported employment of the European partners did you find most interesting and why?
 
Anna and Lucia: “We read the national reports very carefully and liked the French and the Austrian examples most. We compared the reports with the outcome of the project meetings and were rather surprised to find very similar models in Austria with Wien Work and France with Adapei. We were very happy to get a closer look at the Wien Work example in Vienna, mainly because our French is not sufficient to communicate in a more complex way.”
 
What is specifically interesting about Wien Work?
 
Anna and Lucia: “Wien Work is a non-profit company which offers a broad range of services and products for various commercial fields. Under one roof and in one company  they are active in the field of office management, digital media production, facility management, gastronomy, carpentry and woodworking, metal working, refurbishment services, tailor and upholstering services and laundry and dry cleaning services.
 
Wien Work employs around 595 persons with disabilities, chronic illnesses or learning deficiencies as well as long-term unemployed persons trying to reintegrate in the open labour market. Young disabled people can get training, job orientation, counselling services and on-the-job training. Supported Employment and job assistance are offered for adults with disabilities looking for work on the open labour market in the private sector or in public services.”
 
What were your experiences in Vienna?
 
Anna and Lucia: “We are very convinced about the integrative approach of Wien Work, because the company offers counselling as well as jobs. These two activities are not separated and this seems to be a real high quality. The counselling services are not only targeting disabled persons, but also enterprises which want to employ disabled persons and need support.
 
It seems to be of high advantage that a person, who does not get along with a job in one working field, can change to another without changing the company. 
 
Specifically we liked the “Michl” restaurant, which is part of Wien Work and organized with disabled staff. This is similarly organized like the MAGELLAN restaurant in Pessac, which was presented by the French partner INSUP during the project meeting in Bordeaux. Restaurants like that seem to be a kind of trend Europe-wide, a very good one indeed as we have a growing number in Germany as well. Specifically, we liked that the “Michl” restaurant is located in the very heart of Vienna in the first district, where most of the tourists come along. So it has a high visibility. It must be a broadly accepted restaurant by locals as well, because when we tried to have lunch there it was fully booked.”
 
How will the coming meeting in Speyer benefit from your Viennese experience?
 
Anna and Lucia: “The special quality of Wien Work is the broad range of job opportunities and working fields which they offer for disabled persons and the fact that it is a company fully in market competition. This seems to be a most promising approach. We tried to find a similar cooperation partner in Speyer who is active in different highly connected working fields. We are happy that we found GEWO Leben, which is a housing society very active in district development and offering services for disadvantaged youth and adults. We are also happy that GEWO Leben will host our meeting.
 
In Speyer we will proudly present an example which was not communicated yet: The German meeting will present the “Malerwerkstatt” project, which is a preparation project for disadvantaged and disabled youth for labour market.  This is closely connected to supported employment, because here supportive measures already start in special schools. Otherwise these young people won’t have a chance in the labour market at all. Then we will try to find an example of supported employment in gastronomy for the European visitors, because it seems that this is a real big employment chance for disabled people Europe wide. Additionally, we will organize half a day as a kind of “open conference” for offering  German experts of supported employment the exchange with their European colleagues. ”
 
Links: 
 
http://www.michls.at/ - homepage of  „Michl” restaurant
http://www.bundessache.at/ - an Austrian platform offering advice for people with disabilities for jobs in public services
http://www.adapei33.com/ESAT-MAGELLAN-10043.html (information about Restaurant Magellan, in French)
http://www,berufsvorbereitung-foerderschule.de (about Malerwerkstatt project)
 
(Anna Herweger and Lucia Witt, supervised by Karin DrdaKühn, ACW, February 27th, 2015; picture courtesy of Wien Work, Vienna)