Innovative Practices 2013 on Employment

Integrated employment model

SPAGAT is a model for the integration of persons with severe disabilities into the employment world. SPAGAT provides support for, accompanies and finds work for such persons in the primary labour market.

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Integrated employment model
Organisation:IfS – Institut für Sozialdienste gemeinnützige GmbH
of origin


Approximately 70% of all special school-leavers with increased special educational needs now successfully avail themselves of the model. In the last few years, it has also led to a structural shift in the relationship between workshop employees and persons professionally integrated in the general labour market. With Spagat, there are now more persons working in integrated employment than in workshops.


Thanks to the SPAGAT model of “integrated employment”, school-leavers and persons with disabilities in Vorarlberg, Austria who are considered unemployable according to the current legislation, and thus entitled to services for the disabled, are now free to choose between employment in a sheltered workshop or supported employment in a company in the general labour market.

With SPAGAT, the central elements of the process of employment integration are:

–       the development of a circle of support

–       the “creation” of customised jobs

–       the use of mentors in every company

The legal and financial framework established by the province of Vorarlberg is a prerequisite. The companies pay for the actual work of their employees based on the collective wage agreement; the difference in productivity is subsidised by the provincial government, as are the mentors’ costs.

The target group is persons with severe disabilities and a significant need for support who want to work in the open labour market.

The integrated employment concept has led to a systematic and structural shift in the transition process and career development of persons with disabilities, for whom otherwise a sheltered workshop would have been the only alternative available.

SPAGAT is not only a trend-setter in the implementation of the UN CRPD in Austria; the programme also provides greater inclusion at lower costs than comparable placement in sheltered workshops – even without taking indirect profitability and cost savings into account.


Originating in Vorarlberg, Austria, there is growing interest in the SPAGAT model internationally. Currently, SPAGAT employees are invited to important conferences and congresses in German-speaking countries to present their model.



IfS – Assistance, Spagat
Thomas Hebenstreit
Schießstätte 14, 6800 Feldkirch, Austria
Phone: +43 (0)5522 75902

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