Project Go4Diversity

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About the project Go4Diversity

“The unemployment figures of disabled people are high compared to the population in general, and it is not easy for a disabled applicant to get a job…” – this is how the first contact was made within our Flemish (Belgian) – Swedish –Polish partnership.

“The right of people with disabilities to decent work, however, is frequently denied. People with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, face enormous attitudinal, physical and informational barriers to equal opportunities in the world of work.” (ILO, 2018)[1]. There are challenges involved in improving the employment figures of disabled people[2] in Belgium (Flanders), Sweden and Poland.[3]

In this project, Go4Diversity, we want to enhance the employment rate of people with working disabilities by means of focussing on the point of view of employers towards hiring people with working disabilitiesWe want to promote the growth perspective and the richness of diversity. In a time of EU greying labour market and war of talents this talent pool is underused. We want to point out that there is an economical and a human rights aspect linked to ethical entrepreneurship.

We are not focusing on a theoretical project, we want to increase the employment of people with working disabilities through a better contact with possible employers and therefore develop a tool that can support those who are in direct contact with plausible employers. We thus aim at an attitude change that involves a new way of addressing the skills and capacities of people with disabilities.

The expression ‘diversity in working life’ is on many people’s lips these days. At workplaces, it has been noticed that diversity among staff increases well-being at work and a sense of being comfortable in the workplace and through these effects, diversity also influences productivity.[4] We aim on using good experiences and role models. We want to disseminate them in order to raise awareness of the "added value" of disabled people in working life: it helps to create growth. Increased knowledge and changing attitudes are expected to lead to increased trust and the courage to hire people with working disabilities. There is an increasing recognition that an inclusive, supportive and disabled friendly environment provided by the employer could supplement in empowering disabled at workplace and ensure organizational success. As a result, it becomes imperative to understand the factors that influence the employer's perspective towards hiring and retention of people with disabilities at their workplace.

We will tackle our project using design research methodology.

Our common interest is to find a successful way to reach employers willing to hire people with working disabilities or offer them work experiences, eg. Internships. This can be closely linked to economic and employment growth strategies and programmes such as EU 2020 goals[5] and Project Europe 2030 EU[6].  Creating an understanding of diversity as an opportunity for growth and better taking on everyone's skills and talents is a challenge in a national and European societal perspective. Promoting increased diversity is also important for social cohesion and it reduces social gaps.

Our Flemish partners in this project are: HIVA, GRIP, VDAB and VOKA

Our partners for the transnational part are: Region Värmland, Kristinehamns folkhögskola (Sweden) and Dobre Kadry (Poland)


[2] We use people with (working) disabilities throughout this text. In literature we’ve also found ‘people with occupational disabilities’ and ‘people with functional variations’. Defining the term people with reduced abilities to work is a challenging job. We find that each term has a labelling aspect. A disabled person may however be fully able to perform the tasks involved in his or her job.

[3]  ‘Labour market participation of people with work limitations due to health problems’, Findings from the EU Labour Force Survey 2011

Erik Samoy & Montserrat Gonzalez Garibay , September 2016, Flemish Department Work and Social Economics.

 

Project leaders

Organisation Divergent – Ghent University
Name Tim Vandewalle (BE)
Qualification Financial wizard and experienced project manager
Staff category Director
Short description of work experience, relevant to the proposal 21 years of working experiences of which 12 years specifically with our target group. Started out as master in Applied Economics, after which I added a postgraduate in Fiscal Sciences. Since 2006 I use this knowledge amongst others in national and international projects focused on social economy and working experiences for people with disabilities. I worked in European projects such as  Interreg IV Succes and Steps (Guide to work), I-Age and Erasmus+ ‘Way to Learn to Work.’. On top of that I promoted 7 ESF projects such as Strong@work, POP-up,… As a former coordinator at Mentor VZW and as current director of Divergent I’ve always aimed to add constructive hands-on knowledge in order to improve the employment of people with disabilities.

 

Organisation Divergent – Ghent University
Name Ida Veldeman (BE)
Qualification Trainer, coach and organizational developer
Staff category Project coordinator
Short description of work experience, relevant to the proposal

14 years working experience with the projects target group in social and public sector. Started out professionally helping people with physical or social disabilities to independently carry out everyday tasks After which I specialized in HR consultancy and training for businesses (profit and non-profit) with focus on hiring people that have more difficulties in the labor market (55+, low education, migration background, people with disabilities). After this I worked at a University college as a lector in Coaching skills and Leadership skills and Change Management. During this period, I worked in several large scale researches (e.g. Team@work) and ESF projects (HNTW).  Nowadays I work for Divergent, driven by our main focus on sustainable employment of people with disabilities. At Divergent I work as a career coach, trainer HR workshops for employers and project coordinator.

Description of our organization

Divergent (part of Ghent University) is a specialized center. Our main goal is the sustainable employment of people with disabilities. 

We can bend back on over 50 years of experience working with people with occupational disabilities and people with psychosocial problems.

 

•             An occupational disability:

an occupational disability means that you have a disorder of a mental, physical or sensory nature that makes it difficult for you to find work or perform your job. The official figures in Flanders are based on this definition.

 

•             Psychosocial problems (or multiple problems):

this means that, if you have psychosocial problems, it is difficult to find work or to carry out your job well.

 

Our mission is the reinforcement of people at work.  We are there for specialized in:

  • Training and / or coaching of job seekers in order to find suitable and sustainable jobs, preferably paid jobs in the regular economic circuit
  • Specialized training for specific target groups
  • Specialized consultancy and coaching of employers
  • Training and workshops for employers on HR topics such as: Sustainable HR policy, How to deal with stress and burnout, Jobcrafting and jobcarving, …
  • Outplacement guidance
  • Career counseling

Divergent has a long history of running both small scale and larger (international) projects. We have received funding from among others; several EU programs, Public Employment Services and regional funding streams.