Meaningful employment through support
- Meaningful employment through support
- Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality of Spain
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- First published
“In order to provide support according to the employee’s and employer’s needs and to overcome the lack of funding, it is imperative to introduce an EU-wide Supported Employment Labour Contract.” Fernando Bellver Silvan, Vice President of the European Union of Supported Employment (EUSE)
Aiming to boost open labour market inclusion of persons with high support needs, Spain progressively increased the scope of its Supported Employment Programme and introduced, for the first time, a legal definition of supported employment. HISTORY: Supported employment has been demonstrated to be an effective means through which people with intensive disabilities can acquire skills and obtain and retain employment – more effective than traditional centre-based approaches to skills development. In fact, supported employment was already practiced in Spain before it was regulated by the Royal Decree No. 870 of 2 July 2007, entitled Rules for the Supported Employment Programme, as a means to achieve employment of persons with disabilities in the regular labour market. It was included in several other documents, such as the National Reform Programme of Spain of 2005, which was a fundamental source for the government’s economic policy until 2010. The new Decree introduced the Supported Employment Programme as a strategy to build an inclusive labour market for employees with disabilities, in which both funding and exemptions are set for employers and services that provide support. As a result, the programme has progressively increased its scope. In addition, supported employment is incentivised by the employment quota system. However, the enforcement system for this regulation is still under development and at present it is only compulsory for enterprises with more than 50 employees. A new Government Action Plan 2009-2012 aims at levelling regional disparities in funding and standardising programme quality. SUMMARY: Aiming to boost open labour market inclusion of persons with high support needs, Spain progressively increased the scope of its Supported Employment Programme and introduced, for the first time, a legal definition of supported employment. Recognising that supported employment has been demonstrated to be an effective means through which people with high support needs can obtain meaningful employment, Spain put in place in 2007 its Supported Employment Programme introducing adequate rules alongside a legal definition. By developing an individualised workplace adaptation plan with the help of specialised job coaches, the programme provides guidance, advice and support, specific training, monitoring and evaluation of the worker’s process of integration. Spain’s programme was highlighted as an innovative practice by the European Commission.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Multistakeholder participation All stakeholders, such as disabled people’s organisations, trade unions, employers’ representatives and regional governments, were consulted. The goal of open employment Overcoming the view that persons with high support needs cannot work in the open labour market, the decree defines, for the first time, supported employment and provides for ways of accessing it. Breaking down barriers More than any public awareness campaign, real labour market inclusion of persons with high support needs successfully breaks down attitudinal barriers. Sustainable use of financial resources Compared with sheltered employment, less money per person is spent when providing employment in the open labour market with the help of a job coach. KEY FEATURES: The Spanish Royal Decree No. 870 of 2007 regulates supported employment projects that help persons with cerebral paralysis, psychosocial or intellectual disability or an extensive physical or sensory disability to obtain and retain meaningful employment. Supported employment projects provide guidance, advice and support through an individualised workplace adaptation plan, specific training of workers in the tasks inherent to the job and monitoring and evaluation of the worker’s process of integration into the workplace. Central to such projects are specialised job coaches, who are provided by private providers. In general, a cooperation agreement with the employer must be signed and the worker must be hired by the company, through a permanent or fixed-term contract, for at least six months. Support services can last from six months up to one year with a maximum period of two years. However, in the case of a particularly difficult situation, this may be extended up to another six months. Project funding has to be obtained through public and private tenders, and, if available, is granted for up to a year, which can be renewed. Currently about 200-300 (mainly private) service providers employ between 400-500 job coaches who assist about 5,000 persons with high support needs in the open labour market. Thanks to the various supported programmes, during the period 1995-2008, 14,159 people with disabilities found employment and of those, 5,090 persons, or 32.33%, were still working in 2008. Indeed, in 2011, the Spanish Supported Employment Programme was mentioned as an innovative practice in a European Commission report.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
In contrast to well-funded sheltered employment, the lack of steady funding for supported employment still jeopardises the programme’s potential. As long-term support needs are still uncovered, many projects can only exist when families, users or private service providers co-finance them.