(…) What apprenticeships mean for youth and companies, and proposals and suggestions for further work in this field, were just some of the topics of the conference “Apprenticeships for Youth with Disabilities”. Apprenticeships increase their employability, while employment gives them the chance for individual life and economic independence.
The word “equality” is often used when speaking of persons with disabilities, even though practice indicates that in many areas they do not have equal conditions for living and working, from mobility, education, healthcare, to labour. Employment, as one of the basic human rights of everyone, and particularly persons with disabilities, means better quality life, independence and a feeling of security and inclusion in the community.
Aware that this is one of the key issues faced by youth with disabilities, the Forum of Youth with Disabilities has organized, through cooperation with employers, three-month apprenticeships providing them an opportunity to gain the necessary working experience, with the help of mentors, that will make it easier for them to find a job. At the same time, in order to bring about the positive effects of the apprenticeship, a lot of effort is being invested into the promotion of inclusion and accessibility standards, and awareness raising about the importance of adapting jobs and workplaces to the abilities of individuals.
The apprenticeship programme thus contributed to bringing together employers and PWDs, establishing a dialogue and a relationship of trust, and initiating the topic of creating conditions that will suit both youth with disabilities, as well as employers who need quality workers. (…)
Young people who have completed these apprenticeships told us this was a precious experience for them, since they gained new skills, work habits, met new people and enriched their working resumes.
Lazar Bulatović, a graduate sociologists, worked as an intern on developing an e-learning platform through the transcription of video materials, along with translations of declarations from English and German. He notes that the company where he spent his internship invested maximum effort to ensure all working conditions in regards to the adaptation of the workplace, travel to and from work, and securing the necessary equipment for work.
“The most important thing for me was that I acquired working habits and felt the working atmosphere of a company. I think that is the greatest value of my internship”, says Lazar, noting that immediately after his internship he found a job.
Nevena Jeftić is also extremely satisfied with the company where she interned in the human resources department.
“I had great mentors, excellent working conditions and flexible working hours, particularly important because of my exams at the faculty. I met some great people, I got to know the work of an HR department of a large company, and this experience will mean a lot for my further career”, she says, satisfied.
The Forum of Youth with Disabilities notes that the programme would not have been as successful without good cooperation with employers, but also institutions that supported this idea in their own ways – the National Employment Service and the Serbian Association of Employers. (…)
The companies providing apprenticeships are: Delta holding, Delta motors, Elektroprivreda Srbije, Ernst&Young, Nestle, Delhaize, Serbia Cargo, Wurht, Societe Generale Serbia, Zaštitna radionica d.o.o.
The Forum of Youth with Disabilities has been working intensively on the employment of persons with disabilities in the open labour market since 2008. Accordingly, a Programme for the Employment of Persons with Disabilities has been created, and cooperation has been achieved with around 50 companies, small and medium enterprises. The implementation of the programme has provided for the employment of over 300 persons with disabilities.
Author: Jelena Bajević
The text was originally published in the “Poslovi” newsletter – a free of charge publication on employment (no. 784-785, 4.7.2018, National Employment Service, .pdf).
The apprenticeship project was supported by the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia under the thematic grant scheme “Support to Innovative Approaches to Increasing Youth Employment and Employability”, part of the project “Support to the Implementation of the Employment and Social Reform Programme in the Republic of Serbia with a Focus on Employment Policy and Increasing Youth Employability” (“Youth Employment Initiative”).
The Youth Employment Initiative is a part of the programme “From Education to Employment (Е2Е)”, financially supported by the (Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia – SCO), and implemented by the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. Learn more about the project at www.socijalnoukljucivanje.gov.rs/YEI and znanjemdoposla.rs