Supported Employment meeting in Germany

The German project meeting took place in Speyer April 16 – 17, 2015. Nine representatives of the partnership joined for a conference day and site visits connected with supported employment.
The conference was organized by German partner Kultur und Arbeit e.V. and hosted by GEWO Leben, a public utility housing enterprise active in inclusive urban city development and quarter development. Jürgen Schubert, manager at GEWO Leben, presented the vison of the non-profit organization and stood up for an integrated approach which considers the needs of tenants in different living circumstances. He   showed convincingly how an integrated approach can foster employment chances of disabled and disadvantaged persons as well. 
The venue of the meeting was a former church, which was converted by GEWO Leben into a social center for the whole quarter. Here, a canteen is established where people of the quarter can get together for meals and a chat. In the canteen women of the quarter are trained for professions in gastronomy. Jana Schellroth, manager of the center, presented the training programme and provided insight in the background challenges of disadvantaged women for getting adequate jobs.
Three speakers and topics structured the conference day: Thomas Klesius, consultant for occupational orientation at special schools at Pädagogisches Landesinstitut Rheinland-Pfalz, presented an overview on measures for occupational orientation and transfer to employment market for disadvantaged youth. Gerhard Noll, consultant for rehabilitation and disabled persons at Employment Agency in Ludwigshafen, presented measures of supported employment from German Employment Agency. Heidi Ankenbrand, practitioner of Arbeitskreis Aus- und Weiterbildung presented best practice in the implementation of supported employment.
In a lively discussion the Supported Employment project team discussed with the German experts in detail the success factors of supported employment and identified many challenges which still have to be solved. As a concrete outcome 12 success factors were identified for a “fair employment initiative”.
The next meeting day was focused on two site visits: At special school “Erlichschule a preparatory action called “Malerwerkstatt” for avoiding supported employment was presented by the headmasters Peter Schmid and Jürgen Schall and the workshop managers Uta Spieß and Dieter Schramm. Project partners agreed that this “Malerwerkstatt” could be a European model for preparing disadvantaged pupils aged 13 – 16 of special schools for employment market. Another site visits was organized at an elderly home of Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) where Katrin Detzner, head of domestic economy, presented her experiences with supported employment. She strongly impressed the team with a very convincing model for communicating employment tasks to disabled persons: She designed a work plan with pictures as a visual communication tool.
Supported Employment partners were also invited for a reception with the mayor of Speyer, Mr. Hansjörg Eger, who expressed his pleasure to welcome the whole team in Speyer. He explained supportive employment measures in the municipality’s administration.