Fourteen young people with intellectual disabilities will go on work experience programmes in Italy and Finland
A group of 14 young people from Bizkaia with intellectual disabilities will be the first to join a pioneering European programme with which they can take an important step toward their integration into the job market. They shall be on a work experience programme in Italy and Finland, as part of the Erasmus Plus KA1 plan, the first experience of this kind in the Basque Country.
The participants in the initiative, who have attended Lantegi Batuak occupational workshops, have completed courses to obtain professional certificates in regular vocational training centres. “They have had to sit exams and pass some practical tests like any other student”, explains the head of the training department, Menika Jugatx. These official qualifications have enabled them to participate in the European programme.
Seven of the young people, two girls and five boys, are already in Italy. This group, which until now had been studying at the Occupational Services of Etxebarri, Zorroza, Erandio and Otxarkoaga, accepted the challenge of transferring to regular classrooms, where this group found it more difficult to progress. They completed a 400-hour course at the San Viator Vocational Training Centre in Sopuerta and obtained a certificate of professional competence in the category of auxiliary mechanical manufacturing.
“Obtaining this certificate requires studying the same educational units as any other student and over the same time period, passing some tests, and proving they can do the job,” says Menika. They will be working for one month in companies in the machining sector in the city of Rimini, at the same jobs as any other employee. Two support people from Lantegi Batuak have also travelled to Italy with this first expedition of seven young people; a technical expert and a social worker. “Performing this work experience programme abroad will be an important life experience for people in this group and a chance to complete their training in companies that are beyond the scope of a special employment centre”, stress the spokespersons of this social entity. “This international experience is a way of demonstrating what these young people can do and it provides them with the opportunity to improve their employability. Basque companies have to learn to open their doors to disabled people”, says Menika.
The agricultural sector
A second group consisting of seven people, who have also studied at the Lantegi Batuak occupational services, will be going to Finland in March and April for their international work experience. In their case, they will be working in the agricultural sector. The project involving these fourteen young people from Bizkaia is reserved for people with a certificate of professional competence: these are not Vocational Training qualifications but they certify that the people have the necessary knowledge to do a job. These are the first international work experience programmes in Europe for people with diverse intellectual capacities who hold one of these certificates.
In particular, this initiative is based on the Gazteability plan, of which Lantegi Batuak is a partner, and that is co-financed by the European Social Fund. “It seeks to provide training and employment support to people with disabilities under the age of 30″, they add. Lantegi Batuak wants to strengthen ties with regular Vocational Training centres so that other young people can also obtain these official qualifications that will increase their chances of finding jobs beyond supervised workshops. They have chosen fields related to machinery and organic agriculture and gardening because there is a significant demand for workers in these sectors.