The eighth DISEMEX TPM took place in Łodz as a two-day event organised by the project partner 36.6. Competence Center Poland and included, besides management and coordination issues, the best practice study visits.

Employment Support Office “Szansa Pracy” (“Chance for a Job”)

The first visited organization was Employment Support Office awarded as the best employer of disabled persons on the open labour market in 2019 with Lodołamacz/Icebreaker Award by the POPON – Polish Organisation of Employers of Persons with Disabilities. Beata Tomecka-Nabiałczyk, the President of the organization, first made an overview of the general situation of POWDs in Poland with 3 grades of recognized disabilities and the current limited employment opportunities resulting in the employment rate among PWD as low as 23%. Besides difficulties in actually finding job opportunities, there is another significant issue reducing the number of the employed, which is a lack of motivation, caused among other reasons by fear to lose their pension (disabilities payments) that will not be automatically paid again, should the person fail in his attempted professional integration. As in all other partner countries, the disability quota is regulated in the legal system, requiring a min. 6% of the total staff in the companies and in organizations above 25 employees to be occupied by persons with handicap or chronical disease. The fines (compulsory contributions) for not fulfilling the said quota are implied and managed by the State Fund for Rehabilitation of the Disabled People (PFRON).

The scope of activities and services organized by the ESO have been presented by Beata, including vocational guidance, psychological support, legal support and job placement etc. With that support, organizations are able to define different pathways and accommodate people with handicap into various employment programmes:

  •  Providing supported employment in sheltered workshops for people with severe disabilities;
  •  Vocational Activation Workshops for people with less than 70% disability grade;
  •  Professional Integration on the open labour market, organizing trainings, placement and job mentorship.

The former clients of “Szansa Pracy” Eva (controlling specialist), Mateuscz(software developer) and Agnieska (employment center manager),  currently employed, told their stories and experiences in education and engaging in respective professional activities. The founder and the president of the ESO, Beata Tomecka-Nabiałczyk, has than shared her challenging pathway to a social entrepreneur.  After completing three degrees at the university, she could not find a job until she got a position at the Disabled Association. She acquired present position having started her own company “Chance for a Job” in 2017 aimed at providing jobs for PWDs. Since less than 3 years more than 200 persons have been employed – a huge achievement, which has been noticed and honoured with “Ice-Breaker” Award. Besides the obvious achievements, the less positive sides of the employment situation have been revealed. In particular, this concerns the low qualification jobs mostly available on the open market such as security and cleaning. It results in the sad fact that even highly qualified PWDs (many with university degree) are forced to accommodate themselves with very basic employment opportunities.

IMPEL Group (incl. GWARANT Company),

The next best practice was a living example of the information received at the previous meeting for the IMPEL Group being a big company operating in five countries providing facility management (incl. cleaning) and security services with a total number of more than 70.000 employees, occupies about 11.000 persons with different disabilities. Adam Strzelecki, Regional Director of the company, made a presentation about the Group, whereas Darek Stefański the project participants told about its recently acquired security subsidiary GWARANT, which provides trainings for security jobs.  

 POWIDOK Restaurant

The third BPE was a restaurant, where people with mental problems become job placements under supervision of the psychologist Jakub Sobieraj, who reported on the detail of the project. Mr. Sobieraj is employed by the  TPN Towarzystwo Przyjaciół  Niepełnosprawnych („Society for friends of the disabled“) and oversees 7 employees of the  POWIDOK Restaurant as well as 5 in another one. The organization implements job placement projects, including those where psychiatric monitoring services are required. The clients join the programme after being discharged from hospitals to other institutions and provides 6 months of job placement (1 month training + assistance cooking position as a trainee) in 2 restaurants.  Besides face2 face support, the organization provides online psychological assistance through its online support center. The target group – people with mental issues in Łodz in the age between 16-64.

In addition, other similar projects operated by the TPN were briefly presented by Jakub Sobieraj, among them „Start Project“ with kitchen jobs and at „Harmony of Taste“ restaurant and „VIP Project“. The latter provides vocational guidance and assistance during job search on the main labour market in the course of two months, followed by 6 months job placement in a company. If 6-month probation period is completed successfully, a part-time job at the company is offered.

The main scope of activities of TPN includes constant psychologist support and carrier guidance service for currently 40 disables trainees along with the operation of two sheltered workshops with 90 persons employed. The organization itself employs 56 persons.