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Independent Living Institute Newsletter, October 2006

Project Training as Vehicle to Employment

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our first newsletter concerning the EU funded project Training as Vehicle to Employment (TVE). The consortium for the project consists of the Independent Living Institute, Sweden; the Centres for Independent Living in Bad Kreuznach (Germany), Dublin, Helsinki, and Thessaloniki; Iniciativas y Estudios Sociales, Spain; Integracja, Poland; and Apeirons, Latvia.

We are working with government agencies and organizations in a number of European countries to ensure that their trainee and internship programs are also open to qualified people with disabilities. To improve the chances of disabled youth in the labour market we plan to list training opportunities where disabled youth can gain valuable work experience and insight into the operations of top level agencies. The results will be published in our Study and Work for All database.

This work, however, is too important to be limited to our partnership. We invite concerned organizations everywhere to join us in our project as Associated Partners. While our EU funding is limited to the present 8 partner organizations, we can assist organizations in applying for funding of their own by offering our successful project proposal, its arguments, methodology, timetable, budget, etc. We are sure that funding agencies will look favourably on the synergy effects that this proposed scheme entails. For more information please contact Nicoletta Zoannos, Project Coordinator.

More information about the project and the consortium is on the project’s website, www.independentliving.org/training/.

Project News

The project has been up and running since the beginning of 2006. At the moment the national coordinators in Sweden, Germany, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Spain, Poland and Latvia are mapping state organizations to see how many offer trainee and internship programs. The coordinators are also trying to find out how many of the state organizations that do offer trainee and internship programs explicitly state that they are open to qualified people with disabilities.

In this newsletter a closer look is taken at three countries, Germany, Greece and Spain, to see the kind of answers they’ve received when contacting state organizations.

Number of organizations contacted:

Germany: 800 organizations so far mainly by e-mail and around 60 by phone.

Greece: 18 ministries, 19 universities, 14 technological educational institutes, state training centres (not all of them yet since there are few hundred). Nevertheless, only few of them have provided detailed information about their training activities. However, there are still plenty of sub-directorates of the state agencies that need to be interviewed separately, as they often act independently concerning the educational and vocational opportunities they offer to young trainees/employees.

Spain: 24 state agencies have been contacted directly by phone and 39 people within those agencies have been contacted by email.

How many offer a traineeship/internship?

Germany: Most of them offer some kind of traineeships and internship but they differ in type and duration.

Greece: Most of the (already contacted) high-level state agencies run formal training programs and/or internships. Some of the programs take place on a regular basis (e.g. yearly). 

Spain: All of them, but they mainly offer internships.

How many of these organizations explicitly on their websites state that they have internships/traineeships open for people with disabilities?

Germany: The state agencies are generally obliged by law to ensure that their programs are open to all.

Greece: There are an extensive number of state agencies that offer internships and traineeships. Examples are: the 124 Public Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) that run up to 180 different biennial training programs (up to 4 semesters). All of these training programs are meant to be open to trainees with disabilities as well. Nevertheless, there are no official policy actions that indicate the way in which those programs can be accessible to all. The Public IEK’s buildings are, however, obliged to follow the federal guidelines concerning the public buildings’ accessibility. More than 200 Vocational Training Centres (KEKs) are the public (and private) sector agencies that organize informal continuing training programmes with a view to combining training and employment. There are 20 Special Centres of Social and Vocational Inclusion for people with disabilities that offer some kind of traineeship or internship. The Centres for Adult Education (KEEs) promote upgrading of the educational, occupational and social conditions of certain “vulnerable” social groups of people. There are currently 43 KEEs running training programs (up to 250 hours each) for 56,010 trainees for the period 2005-2006 (co-funded by the European Social Fund).

Spain: Only some agencies provide information about trainee programs/internships directly on their website, and those who do, do not mention disabled men and women. The application form however follows "Royal Directive 2271/2004,” which regulates the access to public employment to people with disabilities.

What kind of answers and/or feedback have you received when asking the above questions?

Germany: Most of the people interviewed think that people with disabilities are included in all the programs. Nevertheless, there are implementation difficulties, i.e. access to buildings, workplace facilities, etc. Many civil servants are aware of these problems and try to solve them with “small solutions,” i.e. consider people with disabilities and offering appropriate facilities. Very few have contact with those state organizations who can advise or even help them, e.g. with workplace facilities, etc. When a qualified disabled person applies for an internship it is uncertain if he or she will be treated the same as a non-disabled person. There is a difference between theory and praxis.

Greece: There are organizations which simply declare that they are not currently in a position to accommodate trainees or employees with disabilities; some are not familiar with accessibility issues because there are no disabled employees within their staff/trainees; and a few seem open to promote relevant disability policies concerning their employees and future trainees.

The truth is that recently most of the state agencies have been forced to follow the action plan "Elements provided for the configuration policy of the Ministry of Internal, Public Administration and Decentralisation (ΥΠΕΣΔΔΑ), for the employees with disabilities"  which was signed by the Minister in April 2006. This governmental action has made the agencies more alert and a bit more aware of the accessibility issues concerning their activities.

Within the context of the Ministry’s policy, concerning the upgrade of Greek manpower, the facilitation of the duties of employees with disabilities is particularly important. In order to shape a relevant policy for the employees with disabilities, the Ministry has asked the state agencies to fill in a questionnaire about the number of their employees with disabilities per sector and speciality, the institutional framework of their hiring process, their duties and finally the problems that they face within their work place (e.g. accessibility, working conditions, time schedule, etc).

Spain: Many civil servants are not aware that there is a difference between a non-disabled and a disabled person when it comes to their possibilities of being accepted into a traineeship/ internship. They always refer to Royal Directive 2271/2004, which governs these kinds of situations. Many civil servants can not answer basic questions properly, e.g. if a building is accessible, what kind of technical aids are available, what kind of facilities are offered and so on. In fact, many of the civil servants clearly have no knowledge about the problems a disabled trainee may face in terms of accessibility and so on.

Other News

Paid traineeship for people with a disability in the European Parliament:

The main purpose of this programme is to offer a number of people with disabilities a meaningful and valuable work experience, and an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the activities of the European Parliament.

The traineeships are open both to graduates of universities or equivalent institutions and to people whose qualifications are below university level. Only candidates who can certify that they have a disability will be considered for admission.

The accepted trainees will be paid a monthly allowance of 1,070 euros, and additional costs directly related to the disability may be covered by up to a maximum of 50% of the amount of the monthly scholarship.

The application period runs until midnight 15 October 2006.

You can find more information about the trainee program and how to apply on the website of the European Parliament.

The next Training as Vehicle to Employment Newsletter will be distributed in December 2006.

Sincerely,

Nicoletta Zoannos, Project Coordinator,

Independent Living Institute.


Training as Vehicle to Employment, TVE, was a two year project that started in January 2006 and ended in December 2007.