The LEAD Project – a real chance for the integration of young adults with disabilities into society

Why? Because we approach in an innovative way the relations between: young adults with disabilities; their parents and tutors; companies that have given our beneficiaries a chance; specialists and providers of Supported Employment services.

How? Since 2018, Health Action Overseas Foundation, as leading partner, Valakupiai Rehabilitation Center and Consultis – Consultoria Empresarial, Unipessoal Lda., with the support of Status Employment, our expert partner, have implemented in Romania, Lithuania and Portugal a good practice model regarding the Supported Employment, which has proven its viability in the United Kingdom.

What is different? Supported Employment differs from ordinary model of placement, because it supports both the candidates and the employers.

The candidates benefit from: vocational profiling, counselling to develop improved self-confidence; preparing for a job in line with their professional training and interests, developing their working skills, attitudes, behaviours and functional abilities to successfully achieve their employment goals, through in-work and outside work support. So, we can be sure that the young adults who are recommended by our specialists have the skills for the employment positions. Moreover, our young beneficiaries will be constantly monitored and supported during the integration process if the employer decide to hire them.

Also, our Supported Employment specialists work with the young adults’ new colleagues and the human resources specialists in order to help them communicate constructively with our beneficiaries, and in order to identify the problems which can appear during the integration process, and to solve them.

Last but not least, our Supported Employment specialists provide the employers with comprehensive information on eligibility, rules and procedures to get the financial benefits available to companies who integrate young adults with disabilities, as well as the support in order to actually benefit from these advantages.

Also, it is important to point out that using our Supported Employment program, the employers do not pay the costs to identify, recruit and integrate the employees; costs estimated at about 600 EUR/person.

Another important direction in our work consists in providing informational and emotional support to parents and family members of young adults with disabilities, in order to help them understand their children needs and desires, and to help them motivate the young adults to get and keep a job.

Where does the Supported Employment work?

Experience shows that the Supported Employment model works regardless of the company’s size, the field of activity, or the disability of the beneficiary who we want to integrate. Only three elements matter: the young adult’s desire to work, the openness and availability of the employer, and the quality of the services offered by specialists.

We work hard in order to have young adults who keep their jobs for a long time, who become well-integrated, and who live an independent life. At the same time, we develop long-term relationships, based on mutual respect, with the employers we work with. Paradoxically, focusing on quality, we have exceeded all assumed indicators by almost 100%.It is a matter of pride for us that most of the entrepreneurs which have worked with us have not stopped at a single young adult with disabilities integrated into their teams. We have companies in portfolio that have employed 3-4 young adults and they are still working with our specialists.

According with a recently survey regarding our Romanian beneficiaries, 69% of them are full-time employees, and only 31% of them are part-time employees (percentage influenced by the fact that some of them are still pupils and they can work only during the summer). Regarding the degree of disability of the young employees, 57% of them have severe disability, and 36% of them have moderate disability. Reffering to the type of disability, 43% of them have mental disorders, and 25% of them have neuropsychiatric disorders. Our beneficiaries work mainly as: commercial worker, kitchen worker, handler, packer, assembler, unskilled worker.I want to point out an important thing: all of our hired beneficiaries have had a strong desire to work; we have helped them discover their potential and give purpose and value to their lives.

What are we going to do?

We are going to widely promote the Supported Employment model, as a viable solution for the long-term integration of young adults with disabilities into society, in addition to our daily work with our young beneficiaries, their parents and relatives and companies that have said YES to the challenge of integrating people with disabilities into their teams.

At the same time, we and our partners from Lithuania and Portugal are going to develop the National Networks of Supported Employment Service Providers, created within the LEAD project in order to promote this new service in as many communities as possible, to ensure the exchange of expertise and information between network members, and to improve the quality and efficiency of the services provided by them.

I invite you to find out more about the results of our work by reading our newsletterand, if I have convinced you, I am waiting for you to join us!

The project “Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.

Nicolae Dobrescu,
Project Manager – LEAD
Executive Director of Health Action Overseas Foundation



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