5 Innovative Practices that directly connect training with jobs and employers

„Traning on the job“ is one of the most promising strategy for integrating young learners with disabilities in the open labour market. Potential employers are included from the very beginning in the planning process, and the selection of students as well as traning methods and content are all targeted towards these employers. Various Innovative Practices of the Zero Project use that approach successfully, but differ completely when having a closer look at them.

Read more on training and employment models from

Vocational Education and Training is a crucial interface between schools and the open labour market, for every trainee, but especially for those with disabilities. But it is a challening task to create and maintain these links. Projects often fail when only focusing on the training part and neglecting the needs of potential employers. On the other hand, projects fail as well when they only focus on finding „any job“ and neglect the assessment and qualification part.

In this article, several of the Innovative Practices of the Zero Project 2016 are described that create an excellent start into the open labour market.

Creating real jobs in bakeries

A bakery in Upper Austria and and the non-profit organization Caritas have organized Backma’s, a project that provides vocational on-the-job training for adolescents with disabilities. Under the supervision of mentors, the apprentices acquire practical skills in the production of pastries in a full-fledged working bakery in Linz so that they are then able to find employment in the open labour market.

25 apprenticeship places in total have been provided until the end of 2015, and most of them found a job right after finishing the training.

Because of the success of the project, there is a plan to transfer the concept internationally. Furthermore, the Linz bakery has designed a special energy-efficient oven that operates without electricity and gas, which thus meets the needs of countries (especially low income countries) with high energy costs. Construction on a bakery in Senegal, for example, started in September 2015.


Simulating a supermarket

At the Supermarket” is a simulated supermarket managed by young people with disabilities where they learn accounting, to speak foreign languages, and to draft a code of conduct. The project also includes guided visits to actual supermarkets and an internship. A second project, “Special Masterchef,” has been implemented with the collaboration of a local restaurant, whereby students with disabilities interact with nondisabled students in a working environment. Here, students with disabilities learn how to cook, serve, and prepare tables.

Jobs in kindergartens and elder care

People with learning difficulties use their IT knowledge to train senior citizens living in their neighbourhood. The concept has been developed by people with learning difficulties themselves and is implemented in the PIKSL laboratories in Düsseldorf. At the beginning of the eight-week courses (morning and afternoon sessions, participants pay a reasonable fee) for eight participants (two per teacher), the course content is jointly developed. Assistants of the PIKSL laboratories prepare the training sessions each day. The IT courses are action orientated with daily life examples.

In 2014 and 2015, 96 regular workplaces have been staffed with trainees.

Writing easy-to-read newspaper articles

Since official websites should be accessible for everyone, there is an enormous need for easy-to-read information. The mission of the project is to teach people with disabilities to write easy-to-read news articles. Participants with learning difficulties are trained to understand the journalistic approach to information. The goals are to prepare participants for regular jobs, especially as experts for easy-to-read texts and eventually to provide easy-to-read news on a daily basis for the online-platform of the KURIER, an Austrian daily paper.

Participants, all of whom are people with special needs, are trained to understand the journalistic approach to conveying information. They learn to write their own stories and to rewrite other texts in easyto-read language. Additionally, they learn to handle ICT and to publish on the web.

Working as IT trainers

The project Konekt Let´s Co! organizes practical trainings for adults with intellectual disabilities so they can access the open labor market. Longtime traineeships at regular working places like kindergartens and in elderly care are offered to persons with intellectual disability, so they can take responsibility and support their own community.