30. Oktober 2013

Fachtagung

INKLUSION

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„Inclusion has many facets“
Review of the Symposium "Inclusion"

Some organize events merely focused on self-praise, others put together high-quality professional events for a relevant theme. The bbw Südhessen chose the latter for it's 30th anniversary. Their invitation to the symposium on "inclusion" was received extraordinarily well. More than 300 participants and 30 experts from economy, politics, science and society had come to Karben to discuss the prospects for the training and employment of young people with disabilities, and to deal with the question of how inclusion can be realized and put into practice.

The way to an inclusive work environment still requires some more steps. This fact was made clear at the beginning of the meeting by two experts who were actively involved in the negotiations on the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Diana Radkte, co-founder and area director of the Zentrum für Selbstbestimmtes Leben e.V. (Centre for Independent Living) and long-term vice president of the Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) talked about the background and particularities of the UN CRPD. "The convention fulfilled the demand for a binding instrument to implement equal rights for people with disabilities” were Radtkes words in appreciation of the convention.  She further explained that Inclusion as the new keynote has brought along a paradigm shift:the adjustment of the system to the abilities and needs of individuals with disabilities. Previously integration was the guiding principle, i.e. the adaptation of people with disabilities to the system.

Still Need for Action in Implementing the CRPD
Despite all of the good intentions and the successful structural implementation there is still a need for action; this is what Dr. Sigrid Arnade pointed out.  She is Co-founder and board member of the network for women with disabilities, “Weibernetz e.V.”, and “Netzwerk Artikle 3 - Verein für Menschenrechte und Gleichstellung Behinderter”,  (Association for Human Rights and Disability Equality). Arnade emphasized that the high unemployment rate of people with disabilities is a violation of human rights. She called upon the responsible persons to provide more inclusive training offers in companies and provide more support for people with disabilities; This could be Peer Support as well as the introduction of a successful pilot project like Job-win-win, VAmB or “Integration inklusive” (integration inclusive).

The Secret of a Good Practice
The Good Practice examples showed that in fact many employers are open to the training and employment of young people with disabilities. Whether in crafts, the IT industry or in an architectural office: employers gladly give young people with disabilities across the spectrum, a chance. This is illustrated in four following stories.
"You have to learn to pay attention to the strengths of young people not their weaknesses", said Christoph Quincke from the software company Auticon. Auticon focuses on the recruitment of people from the autism spectrum. Sarah Rotaru from “Feldmann Architekten” (Feldmann architects) pointed out that an internship is an excellent starting point. At the Felmann office, a young man with a physical disability was trained as a technical draftsman. From the examples described, it was more than clear that the companies and employees were open to trainees with disabilities if they were qualified for the job position. Cemal Ates from Malermeister GmbH and Torsten Brinkmann from Main IT agreed that the examples also show how employers see themselves insufficiently supported by authorities when it comes to information and applications for aid.

Panel Discussion: Towards an inclusive work environment
We have already achieved a lot on the way to an inclusive work environment, but much remains to be done as seen in the lively and partly controversial panel discussion in the early afternoon under the direction of Annetraud Grote (Paul-Ehrlich-Institute).

A "cautiously positive result" concluded Dr. Uwe Gaßmann, deputy chief executive of the “Vereinigung der Arbeitgeberverbände energie- und versorgungswirtschaftlicher Unternehmungen” (Association of Employers for Energy supply and Economic enterprises). “There is now more awareness of this issue among personnel managers”, stated Gassmann. He asked the organizations of people with disabilities to reach out more to companies. In order for interested employers not to be standing against unnecessary hurdles in hiring people with disabilities, he called on policy makers  to provide a central point of contact for employers. He was supported in this challenge by Alfons Adam, Group Representative for Employees with severe Disabilities with Daimler AG. Over 700 young people with disabilities have trained in Daimler the past few decades just as Adam had. This reveals that people with disabilities could of course make a contribution to professional working life. "But we would like to do even more with the training issue", said Adam in Karben convinced that employers could be more active overall.

In his statement, Richard Fischel, Deputy Director of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs designated the bbw Südhessen an exemplary institution. According to Fischel, successful work for young men and women is beeing done here, in order for them to take part in an inclusive working society later on. The changes that took place with the the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the subsequent National Action Plan of the Federal Government for the implementation of the UN CRPD,  can be noticed everywhere. “Inclusion has to do with attitude and action", said Fischel. Creativity and networking are now required for further steps to an inclusive work environment. Dr. Andreas Jürgens from the “Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen” (state welfare association Hessen)  asks for companies to develop a new attitude, and that the focus should be on the resources people have and not on their weaknesses. According to his experience, “the most difficult step is to place the first severely disabled employee in a company”. Furthermore, it is important for the commitment to employment of companies, to receive a continuous contribution as a balance to underperformance. He hopes for a better legal basis concerning this issue.

Barbara Vieweg from the advocacy group “Independent living" claims that in public authorities, inclusion must be perceived with an increasing focus on the  right to free choise; otherwise, she fears, inclusion could quickly become an economy model aimed at saving money.  "Inclusion has arrived within the institutions but hasn't arrived yet in the labor market" outlined the Director of Operations at the  Regional Directorate of the Federal Employment Office,  Peter Weissler  the regional situation. Also, Inclusion isn't a cure all, as Weissler further emphasized: “Both 'Berufsförderungswerke' (Vocational Training Centers for People with Disabilities), and 'Berufsbildungswerke' (Integrated Training with Vocational Education Centers) don´t lose their right to be." Kirsten Vollmer from the “Bundesinstitut für Berufliche Bildung” (Federal Institute for Vocational Training) also agreed to this. She warned that within the inclusion debate different lines crossed each other when “inclusion ideologues lead discussions in ways that go over the heads of those affected”. She emphasized instead the  importance to be open to different ways in order to not forget anyone.

Workshops: Ideas and impetuses for Inclusion
Inclusion has many facets, as has been shown by the different approaches and measures that have been introduced and discussed in the afternoon workshops. Whether peer counseling, the special promotion of women with disabilities, support services in and outside Germany or the inclusive development of one entire region: Inclusion is possible and there are many good ideas from which people can learn and benefit; especially when it comes to the realization of new opportunities for an inclusive working life of young people with disabilities. In the future however, basic parameters need to be changed in order to make it easy and natural for individuals with disabilities as well as for companies, to create genuine participation that all parties involved will benefit from in the end."Inclusion is more than a legal right, it is a claim. Inclusion is based on a change in the attitudes of all," said the bbw Managing Director Renée-Eve Seehof in her closing remarks. The conference couldn’t have been summed up more clearly and concisely.