A certification scheme creates jobs for people with intellectual disabilities
- Providing certification for secondary education and vocational training
- Fundación Descúbreme
- Country of Implementation
- Latin America & Caribbean
- South America
- Start Year
- First published
“After my practice period, this job was a great challenge both personally and professionally, but my tutor helped me a lot. I have left the school behind, and now I consider myself an adult and am very happy.” Nicole Herrera, kitchen assistant, Sodexo.
The Descubreme (“Discover Me”) Foundation is a Chilean NGO that works for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. With the cooperation of two partner organizations, Descubreme has recently started a process of certification to enable young people with intellectual disabilities to participate in secondary education and vocational training.
A national study shows that in Chile only 23 per cent of people with disabilities finish the full primary and secondary education programme of 12 years, and only 9.1 per cent complete higher education. For young people with intellectual disabilities the situation is even worse, since the Ministry of Education does not recognize the special education curriculum, which is where many of these students must study. Consequently, they are virtually excluded from secondary and any further education.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The Descúbreme Foundation along with the private company SK Bergé and the Chilean Chamber of Construction have started a pilot project to certify the education of students with intellectual disabilities with the appropriate authority – Chile Valora (Sistema Nacional de Certificación de Competencias Laborales). For the project, ten students of the Los Escuela Diferencial Santa Teresa de Ávila were selected, and the knowledge and competences that they acquired during the training programme and work practice were officially recognized. This enabled eight students who passed the exam to obtain jobs in the open labour market. The two students who not receive certification will continue their training and be given the opportunity to take the test again. Project graduates currently work in a cafeteria, in a grocery shop, as operator of assisted sales, and in administrative support. They earn US$460 per month, which is above the country’s minimum wage. Project staff provided support during the first six months of employment to ensure a smooth transition.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
This pilot project had a total cost of US$11,706, and the model will now be replicated with 20 young people with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, three companies have already shown interest in hiring the participants after they have received their certification.
THE STORY OF DIEGO VILLAGRA, WAREHOUSE ASSISTANT
“Recently, it was I who taught a new fellow how to do the job!”
In 2014, Diego Villagra signed his first employment contract – a milestone in his adult life. This is certainly thanks to his perseverance and persistent family support, but also thanks to the SKBergé company’s commitment to the integration of persons with cognitive disabilities into the workplace. Diego has made good progress in carrying out his daily activities, including traveling a long distance each day to work via public transportation. Once at work he performs the duties of a warehouse assistant; and after nine months of internship, during which time he received a living wage, he became a member of the permanent SKBergé staff. This initiative of labour integration is bringing slow results, yet for Diego it has become an enriching experience that has allowed him to exhibit all his abilities. As he noted, “I like working and it is easy getting along with my companions, working in teams. Even more, recently I taught a new fellow how to do the job!”