It takes millions of small steps to build capacities for our trainees. We start with training and the ultimate goal is to join the workforce – literally and figuratively. For those who need supervision and support this step is taken at our “Supported Work Centre”, others proudly step out, armed with their skills and our support. We stand aside with bated breath, our hearts in our hands like a mother who sends her toddler to play school for the first time.
Through this we smilingly encourage them because we strongly believe that gainful employment transforms lives. When people see the products created by out work associates, they recognise the capacities of our people. Young men and women work hard every day, to make an impressive range of products of the highest quality, at our employment centre. The products are marketed to retail clients and bulk orders are taken from various organisations.
Some of our higher functioning trainees have taken up jobs in the open market, proving to be diligent, conscientious employees. Integration with mainstream workplaces enables them to realise their true potential. Employers who appreciate their skills and bring a humane approach to their needs, make this dream a reality. Between 10-15% of young adults with intellectual disability can be successfully employed in mainstream world.
The Lemon Tree Hotel currently employs eleven young adults from our employment centre. For this 9 hours a day job, with one weekly off, they underwent a special training module. The boys are very happy, cheerful and confident. Interestingly, they are known as “Happy Boys” in the hotel.
Recently, two of our work associates were selected by Four Points by Sheraton as trainees. Two more have joined at a HP petrol pump.
Data Entry is a new area for Muskaan. What started, a few years ago, as a computer centre with 2-3 students, is today training 10-12 students in data entry and will lead to more work opportunities in various industries.
Muskaan has the privilege of being chosen as a training partner by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for skill training and employment generation for young adults with intellectual disability.
Our Supported Work Centre currently employs 50 people with intellectual disability. For them it is a life-changing experience as earning raises their self-worth and they enjoy putting their skill to use. For us, who work with them, it is a great experience in diversity.
Employment at our supported work centre suites 80%-85% of young adults with intellectual disabilities, as they need continuous support and supervision. Some notable things about the employment centre are:
- The biggest achievement of our work centre has been to instil a sense of self-worth in our young adults
- It has built their capacities beyond our initial expectations
- The work centre has created employment opportunities for people with different degrees of intellectual impairment by creating assembly lines in production
- Given an appropriate structure and job simplification, persons with intellectual disabilities can learn and earn
- Learning has no age limit, therefore, on the job skill training and constant up gradation has to be ensured
- Suitable challenges need to be built for different trainees according to their ability levels
Work centre challenges
We do face several challenges, and the key ones are listed below:
- High cost of production-raw material, overheads
- Balancing job orders with production capacities
- Keeping the focus on the human profit
- Developing economically sustainable models
- Professional and technical support- designing of products, equipment, re-modelling machinery and furniture
- Society’s ignorance about persons with intellectual disability created a barrier for open employment. We have been successful in breaking this barrier as our work associates have gained employment with corporates.