Social Firms, Sheltered Workshops, Supported Employment and me
The following definitions are provided via that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:
'Social Firm is the British term for a work integration social enterprise (WISE), a business created to employ people who have a disability or are otherwise disadvantaged in the labour market. Its commercial and production activities are undertaken in the context of a social mission, with profits going back into the company to further its goals. A significant number of the employees of social firms will be people with a disability or disadvantage, including psychiatric disabilities. The firms grew out of disillusionment with mainstream businesses, and the failure to recognise or enable everyone's potential. All workers are paid a market-rate wage or salary that is appropriate to the work. All employees are intended to have the same employment opportunities, rights and obligations.
A sheltered workshop is an organisation that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The word 'sheltered' refers to a protective environment where the disabled can undertake paid meaningful employment in a supportive environment. The term 'sheltered workshop' is considered outdated in favour of social enterprise, especially in the UK, the US and increasingly in Australia. However the notion of 'social enterprise' implies that the organisation would trade in the market and take on a degree of business risk, and not be completely dependent on government subsidy, as the traditional model of the sheltered workshop may allow. In this newer model, the enterprise might receive a subsidy in compensation for the reduced productivity of its disadvantaged workers, in order to allow it to compete on a "level playing field" with conventional firms. In Australia, funding can only be used to provide training and support to is 'supported' employees. This type of employment is in contrast to 'open employment' where people with disabilities enter mainstream or 'open' employment
Supported employment is a term used to describe a system of support for people with disabilities in regards to ongoing employment in integrated settings. Supported employment provides assistance such as job coaches, job development, job retention, transportation, assistive technology, specialized job training, and individually tailored supervision. Supported Employment often refers to both the development of employment opportunities and on-going support for those individuals to maintain employment.
The concept of supported employment has made it possible for individuals with moderate-to-severe levels of disabilities to become active, wage-earning members of the workforce
Which is best?
I don’t think best comes into it – the correct question should surely be which is right? Which offers the greatest opportunity for growth and personal development? Where should the powerful consign the powerless?
I should also state that I do not question the motivations of people that support exclusive rather than inclusive employment and those that favour the isolation of people with disability over their integration – I just think that they haven’t thought things through.
Do you come to work because you like it or because you have no choice? Faced with this question the majority would probably answer because I like it or because I am in transit to something I would prefer and this (your job) is simply the means to that end.
In my life I have held some 20 or so jobs with a wide range of requirements – many I did ‘in transit’ some out of need (and occasional desperation) but my longest jobs have been those that I truly love.
As a young person I needed to experience what I did not like in order to identify those things did enjoy. I will never be a plumber! I cannot use my hands in the way that my sons work with tools, with skill and safety. I do not like to work late at night.
My experience with people that have a disability suggests that they are the same – they crave experience and exposure to different areas of the workforce as a means of finding out and developing their abilities and skills and as a progressive journey (a career) that will enable them to achieve their maximum potential.
Social firms and sheltered workshops by their very nature cannot provide this journey – they are dead ends. Well meaning, well intentioned and a dead end that offers only one sort of work and punishes anyone that does not enjoy same*.
* Before you ring/write, email or graffiti the walls of my office please take 1 minute to answer this question honestly and with intelligence: Do you perform better at work you enjoy or on tasks you loathe?
Common sense and honesty would have the answer, ‘tasks you enjoy’. People with a disability are no different and yet the annual wage fixing process measures performance/productivity on the tasks that are available and/or assigned rather than on your choices or preferences – a social firm does what it does and if you don’t like mechanics, process work, packing or whatever you are unlikely to be particularly productive and, as a consequence, you will earn less than your maximum potential.
This excludes you from full participation in the workforce and would only be acceptable at even an intellectual level if there was no alternative (there is).
If you scroll down earlier posts you will come across another I worte entitled ‘thieves’. Why did the young lady earn less? Maybe because she hated teh rotten work she was given, maybe not because of her disability, maybe she just wanted to be fulfilled by her employment.
Where can opportunity be found?
Supported employment mirrors the community in which we all live. Through properly facilitated supported employment NOVA job seekers have become employees in pretty much every sort of business from Accountants to Zookeepers. Not every person has stayed in their job (maybe they changed their minds). Not every person has achieved 100% productivity and, as a result may have had to use a supported wage. Some have been fired. The difference is that in every case each person was given the freedom to make their own choices and other methods of employment offer only ‘this or that’ choice.
The truth is that every day NOVA finds or creates 3 new opportunities for our job seekers in work they have chosen with the maximum possible hours and earnings – enabling full participation in Australian society.
Our political parties are throwing money in this election period at every sort of cause and sheltered workshops and social firms are taking full advantage of this. It is a shame that the people who stand to gain or lose the most from the choices our masters make are those with the least ability to be heard.
Let’s take the money from sheltered workshops and programs that exclude and leave people with disability to make their own informed choices about where they might like to use their skills – I doubt it will be painting surveyor’s pegs.
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Your Comments Tim Bennett from north carolina wrote on 25 Jun 2016 5:47:07 AM we need to end subminimum wages for the disabled non disabled i didn't haqve a intellectual or developmental disability to be paid such lousy wages
Your Work There was never any doubt in my mind that I would work. My dad told me I would work and there wasn't ever a suggestion that my future held an alternative option....
Not so bad! Taken from: Today's Guardian at 4.09pm Tuesday 7th November 2017:
In a world full of discouragement there’s always a space for good news....
The NDIS mantra is 'choice and control'
To be valuable, choice needs to be informed.
Average Sydney Disability Employment Services placement rates are 34....
It's voting time at "Focusonability" - with a record number of films entered, a tremendous effort by more than 100 High Schools and 19 countries competing in the International section it was always going to be a hard job to pick a winner....
Choice & Control
The NDIS slogans around choice and control demonstrate the importance of consumer involvement in both the choice and control of supports they need.
However, in order to be valuable, choice needs to be informed by accurate data such is this: http://www....
Last week (14-16) it was my privilege to attend the 1st World Supported Employment Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"Employment for All - A Global Perspective" brought workers from around the globe (primarily Europe) to discuss best practice in supported employment....
Quality and the Stars Quality and the Stars
There have probably been few people more openly critical of the Disability Employment Service (DES) Star Ratings than me.
The Stars, ranging from 1 to 5 are supposed to give some insight into whether a service is a poor or high performing program....
Attended the Disability Employment Australia (DEA) forum in Canberra. THis is a regular get together that offers disability employment services tha chance to be kept up to date from our funding body and also listed to expert speakers on topics associated with the goal of seeing as many people as possible find and keep suitable employment....
NOVAs greatest asset is its staff. I suspect you would struggle to find the CEO of any organisation state their staff are not vital and at the core of business reputation and results....
A corner turned?
We are presently holding events to promote employment for people with disability - nor surprise there, that's our job.
What has been a surprise is the willingness of employers to come along and listen and more importantly, to consider adopting inclusive employment practices across their organisations....
Say No to Quotas!
The pernicious idea that 'quota's' might be the solution for disability employment continue:
Faced with the daunting task of improving the number of employment outcomes with out sacrificing the quality of service delivered to people with disability how have we fared (sort of Year in Review II)?
The number of placements made has seriously improved - up 31% in 2015 and a further 14% in 2016, NOVA operates at at rate of placement better than 150% over 2014!
Whats really exciting is that this has been achieved without compromising on the level of disability that can be supported by NOVA's teams (if anything this has risen)....
Famous last words!
O.K. - sorry that you need to cut and paste: http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/100-million-payday-for-1anhour-staff-with-disabilities-20161216-gtcius....
Not sure if this will be my last blog post for 2016 but just in case, a quick look back at 2016:
Best ever year for total number of placements
Best ever year for long term employment outcomes
Best ever year for Apprenticeships and Traineeships
Best ever year for Transition to Work outcomes
Best ever year for media coverage
Best ever year for 'Focusonability'
Best ever year for Transition to Work (TTW)
How about 2017?
Looking good, so stay in touch and have a terrific holiday, be safe and hopefully Santa will bring you all that you wish for....
Choice is only of value when it's informed (written about this here previously)
I have the numbers for disability employment services (DES-ESS) up till 30th June this year and I am delighted to see that NOVA is responsible for almost 25% of all employment lasting 6 months or more (28 providers) and almost as many as next 2 providers combined....
The NDIS held out hope and promise to people with a disability, the opportunity to exercise choice and control and was heralded as the answer to the prayers of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens....
Latest 'Stars' The effectiveness of Australian Disability Employment Services is recognised through a system called the 'Star Ratings'.
6 years ago NOVA was amongst the lower performing providers in Sydney, at least as measured through the Star's,
Regular readers will be aware of my unhappiness with things that I think are important to people with disability - stuff like, wages earned, hours worked etc....
Best Show on TV Morning All
Sorry you need to cut and paste: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/802326595536/focus-on-ability-film-festival-2016
Best show on TV - bar none and, if you want to skip my bit I get off at 3:10 and you can get straight to some of the truly terrific films from this year's "Focusonability" short film festival....
Reform There is a review of Disability Employment Services and presently consideration is being given to what might best replace the current program.
NOVA needs you - come and join us
NOVA needs You!!
Wednesday 2nd November
Short notice (so really appreciate sharing) and we are holding an information session for potential new workers in a variety of roles within NOVA....