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ToL Dual - Transition towards the open labour market

Chance B Association won the 'Education' category with their practice 'Transition towards the open labour market' which aims to accompany people with disabilities in the transition from sheltered workshops to the labour market. Chance B has therefore designed a qualification program which looks to reduce the access barriers to the education sector.

Name of the Practice: ToL Dual - Transition towards the open labour market

Organisation: Chance B

Description of organisation: The Chance B Association was founded in 1986 and is now a non-profit group of companies operating in Eastern Styria. Chance B offers 30 social services for every age and every area of life. Chance B has 4 core principles: regionality and internationality, cooperation and collaboration, innovation and people. 

Country: Gleisdorf, Austria 

Year of initiation: 2012

Funding of practice: Styrian Government - Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education 

Link to UNCRPD: Article 24 – Education, Article 27 – Work and Employment 

Description of practice: The TOL Dual programme is a service for people with disabilities with support needs (mainly people with learning difficulties). The programme aims to accompany people with disabilities in the transition from sheltered workshops to the open labour market. The target group are mainly young people with disabilities who live in Styria and are classified as ‘unemployable’ on the Austrian labour market.  

The project is developed around two fundamental principles. First, the pathway for people with disabilities into employment is successful if cooperation with companies in the open labour market is established from the beginning. Support must be offered by the service provider for both people with disabilities and the companies. Second, sustainable integration into the open labour market requires the empowerment of people with disabilities and official verification of skills. This ensures that in case of a job change or internal career development, the acquired skills are acknowledged by potential employers. 

Problem targeted: About 25,000 people in Austria are still classed as ‘unemployable’ and are supported in sheltered workshops. People with disabilities who currently claim benefits under the Styrian Disability Act mostly belong to this target group. These people often lack formal qualifications or have few education and training opportunities open to them. Future employers should be free of concerns when hiring people with disabilities who do not have a recognised educational qualification. It is therefore necessary to make the skills and competencies of persons with disabilities visible.  

Solution offered: Chance B has therefore designed a qualification program (funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education) which looks to reduce the access barriers to the education sector. The programme is designed to provide participants with trainings on integration into the areas of gardening, retail, hotel business, office administration and crafts. These trainings are subject to an ‘assignment procedure’ and the learning outcomes are officially certified using an online competency recording tool. Participants can experience a real career orientation process: users receive feedback through frequent evaluations of their current skill levels and are free to decide on their future profession and field of work. Within the programme, vocational orientation is not limited to offerings in sheltered workshop environments. Moreover, companies can receive support in adapting workplaces and operations to the needs of our participants through our job creation approach. 

Impact Generated by Practice: Knowledge and experience gained from the TOL Dual programme will contribute towards the future development of projects on the professionalisation and development of soft skills training for people with disabilities. This is particularly the case for projects with a focus on integration into the open labour market. Furthermore, when employers can clearly identify competencies of the individuals, they can better assess what their future workforce is capable of. This already acts a major step towards improving employment opportunities. Due to the success and the demand for the program by young people and parents, Chance B is confident that regional authorities can be convinced to change the legal framework in the near future for a stronger implementation of Art. 27 in the UNCRPD.

Sustainability of Practice: It is important to ensure the future viability of this approach. It can only succeed if people have a positive educational experience and self-efficacy experiences in acquiring new skills. The qualifications acquired and the recognition of competencies provides participants with sustainable career opportunities and further alleviates any concerns about what the future workforce is capable of. To ensure the professionalization and further development of the program, Chance B has launched several national and international projects since 2012 as to establish qualifications based on the competency-based and quality-assured National Qualifications Framework (related to EQF). Examples include KomKom (2012-2016), KomKom II (2019-2021) and NQF Inclusive (2014-2016). 

Chance B is also currently in the process of establishing an Austria-wide network to share the results, ideas, curricula, and experiences of the programme more readily. They are currently working with several organizations in now 3 regions of Austria and aim to expand our network to at least 15 organizations across Austria by the end of 2021.  

Contact Information: Michael Longhino, Vice CEO: Michael.Longhino@chanceb.at 

Additional links: English presentation of the programme