From vision to mission: Rehabilitation must be a continuum
Vocational integration plays a central role in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
We are strongly convinced, that vocational integration is an important key to full social participation and consequently, a crucial contribution to subjective quality of life. Especially disadvantaged or disabled young people must be supported in respect of access to employment. Therefore, specialized occupational advisory, vocational advice and training measures are essential. Moreover, special attention must also be paid to sustainable retention of and - as much as possible – advancement in employment.
We are well aware of this great challenge. Initially starting with WORKS and on the basis of formative and summative evaluation tools, we have assessed different subgroups of participants with different strengths, weaknesses and needs. In a step- by-step approach, we are trying to implement small but suitable rehabilitation modules, most fitting to the different target groups. Smooth tranisitions and strong collaboration among these modules are crucial. Some modules already exist (fig.1). But we are still confronted with a great deal of work. Especially for severe disabled adolescents and young adults in the transition from hospital-based-programms to aftercare, a low-threshold prevocational offer is needed.
Since 2004 we have made strong efforts to establish a kind of day-care-center, focusing on social participation, day-structuring, and vocational education as much as possible. While WORKS for example is assigned to force vocational integration, the day-care-center is intended to be a lower and earlier stage of rehabilitation, because for participants in the transition from hospital to after-care, immediate vocational integration is often an unrealistic goal. On the other side of rehabilitative continuum, special offers of sheltered and supported employment are required to bridge the (increasing) transition between vocational training and first labor market. Especially with respect to the sustainability of vocational integration such on-the-job trainings are essential. With our initiative to transitional employment and along with gainful apprenticeship we developed a first pillar in the field of gainful employment and on-the-job training.
As said before, attention must also be paid to advancement in employment for disadvantaged and disabled adolescents and young adults. Nowadays in the so-called knowledge society, the key to advancement in employment is life-long-learning. With this in mind, we are currently discussing and conceptualizing pathways to life-long and life-wide learning for the target group mentioned.