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Association of the vulnerabilities of Energies and skills - with
  • 19 rue Saint-Jacques 75005 Paris France
  • Simao Carvalho

The personal support of people with intellectual disabilities for a sustainable integration in the mainstream workplace, Paris, France

  • Labour : Enterprise Integration
  • Europe : France
  • Experience Index Card

From Simao Carvalho the Oct 18, 2011

AVEC [WITH], through a specific and adapted support, allows the workers to achieve their professional integration in the mainstream workplace usually in business friendly companies.
1. The context
The association AVEC ([WITH], Association of vulnerabilities, energy and skills) was funded in March 2010. Today, Marie-Paule Blanchard and Simao Carvalho, both technicians for integration of the association, relate to persons recognized as having the status of workers with disability, and companies that hire them.
Among people with disabilities who ask for using the associaiton's support, there are all types of disabilities: physical, cognitive, mental or psychological. They have 28 years on average, but there are also many seniors as juniors. On the corporate side, Simão and Marie-Paule are asked to search for profiles with the necessary skills to the company. WITH reference counts among its companies such as Starbucks, and Michel Augustine, Disney store ... The association currently follows up to 14 people in connection with the accompanying enterprise, and supports 15 other candidates in their efforts to access to employment (including 7 who finalize their hiring, to achieve a professional project which is their own in a company that will listen to this project).
The mission of AVEC comes so in two ways:
  • on the one hand, maintaining the employment of people with the recognition of worker with disability in a company;
  • secondly, the creation of a place for meeting with trusting atmosphere where candidates and companies implement sustainable collaboration that takes into account the needs and expectations of each party.
2. The purpose of the experience
Marie-Paule occupied the first position in France as specialized teacher in an integrated class into a high school for adolescents with intellectual disabilities. This experience was very positive, both for all pupils, staff, and high school. Students coming out of the special class were quickly work in business, but often had to leave after 2 to 4 years due to the lack of adequate support. Given this fact, the idea is coming to assist these employees in the long term through a strategy of continued employment. Since the Act of February 11, 2005, large companies use the association to find employees who have a recognized status of worker with disability, whose career plans and skills meet the business needs identified. So the action of the association meets at the point of a possible meeting between the two parties.
In developing the candidate's project, the association may meet as well its family, and care partners where appropriate, all other actors involved in integration. Each case is unique and requires a unique solution that satisfies both the family, the candidate and the company. If necessary, employees with disabilities are referred to specific training or complementary (AVEC is also a training organization) that increase their efficiency and productivity at work.
Outside professional activities of the week, moments of relaxation, meeting and recreation are offered every Saturday by the association and organized by the beneficiaries, also allowing these activities to fight against the risks of isolation, nourishing friendships and developing autonomy: visits to exhibitions, cinema, bowling ...
As Marie-Paule Blanchard said, it would have been inconceivable a few years ago for a student with an intellectual disability to be educated in a school, or even that a company could hire him. Although attitudes have changed since then, much remains to be done so that the society would consider no more the disability, but the candidates' available potential (abilities/skills) AVEC supports. This change of representations, this new approach is directly at stake when to discuss the job profile, and meet a candidate. The challenge of AVEC is that to reveal and enhance to the company the skills rather than qualifications of a candidate.
3. The different steps of coaching in business
1 / All support project begins with a first contact between AVEC and one person who benefits from the recognition of worker with disability, or with a business.
2 / The second step is to define and formalize the specific needs of the individual or company. In the case of a candidate, it will be the person to listen and learn to know to understand their career plans, expectations, and come to identify their skills and difficulties, and then enhance its profile. In the case of a company, it will formalize with it the business needs and help to think together on tasks that could be assigned to a disabled worker under the powers of it, in order to improve productivity the company.
3 / Third, AVEC promotes a direct meeting with the company could accommodate the worker, or candidate(s) that match the job description defined with the company. This may involve reworking the original offer: from an offer of full-time job at the checkout (till) of a fast food chain, we can move on to an offer of part-time on the slots where customers are more and where the activity is so involved in cash to employees "ordinary" tasks like cleaning the room, clearing tables, dishes, replenishing buffets are neglected. We then realized that all these tasks may seem "secondary" at first is a charge for these peak hours, and is a post in itself, and may well be entrusted to a person with disabilities become so indispensable!
4 / Finally comes the one-month internship in the company to validate the operational capability of the selected candidate(s). If the placement is successful, then comes the signing of the contract taking into account all the specificities of the individual and the company. Otherwise, either AVEC turns to other avenues of research, the internship is repeated if it would not allow to draw conclusions or if the results are mixed. After signing the contract, the association continues to support the employee in the company so that he/she could be included always better and in a sustainable perspective.
There is no "standard" duration to the accompaniment/support of AVEC beneficiaries. It can be short, for a candidate with a light physical disability who would only feel stressed to start working again, or could also reach long-period duration, such as several years when the disability is heavy, or that recurring weaknesses appear ...
4. The means
Throughout the coaching process, AVEC's technicians work with other actors of integration, such as physicians and psychologists, for example. Indeed, career success is also linked to other areas of life (family, friends ...), we are possibly related to them, while taking care to remain within the scope of our own skills. All these steps must take place in a space conducive to discussion, negotiation of the framework of the support in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Moreover, each month or once a quarter, AVEC makes a specific follow-up meeting with the beneficiary [supported worker] and its responsible within the company. Our presence promotes free and precise expression of specific problems or concerns of each party, there are questions, a dynamic is created that definitely promotes the integration of the employee in the company.
So far, M. Simão Carvalho is the only employee of the association. Marie-Paule Blanchard, the founder, is volunteer. The association has recently benefitted from the status of training organization, which also gives the opportunity to share experiences with others in the medical-social sector, in addition to meeting with the teams in companies during training sessions.
Financially, AVEC receives services from the 'Agefiph' [National] Agency at the signing of an individual contract of employment, pusruing during the first two years accompanying the employee. However, all the work upstream of the contract, namely the search of the company / candidate, the definition of tasks and appropriate work position for example remain the responsibility of the association. This preliminary work is in fact a key to the success of all that follows. The Starbucks group understood this point: the company and the association are now partners and signed an agreement under which Starbucks then finance AVEC's work before and beyond the follow-up in employment which lasts two years, and the accompanying/support of the beneficiary's professional development within this precise company.
5. The evaluation
The partnership with Starbucks is one of the examples of other employees, employers and families for whom the AVEC experience is a success. Employees thrive in their work, and this is particularly evident for a young woman who was previously placed in ESAT *, where she was considered as someone with low literacy skills, and who is now working in a chain of fast food, where she has proven herself and is appreciated for the efficiency and quality of her work. The act of entrusting her with responsibilities pushed down her disability, which is observed in many people in the same situation, following a similar path to integration.
Marie-Paule and Simão observe at the same time a difference at the companies level, although there is still much to do. Like Starbucks, the group Michel et Augustin is another example of a company that has made the effort to define simple tasks, in consultation with all of its employees. In these cases, we see how these integrations are mobilizing factor of the staff, a source of questions and improvements both in the organization of work and on the atmosphere within the team.
In the long term, AVEC would perpetuate this type of support, and see a multiplication of the number of associations that engage in this type of mission, and fight against prejudice and negative representations still recurrent and strong in the world of work.
* Centre and Services for Help through Work [Etablissement et Service d’Aide par le Travail]

Translation Project

Canonical language : French
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