Innovative Approaches to Employer Training through Inclusive Futures

On World Creativity and Innovation Day today (April 21st), we are highlighting how Inclusion International’s members are testing innovative new approaches to employer engagement through the Inclusive Futures programme!

Inclusive Futures is a UK Aid funded programme that aims to use innovative approaches to support inclusion for people with disabilities across health, education, employment, and other themes. The work of Inclusion International and our members as partners in Inclusive Futures focuses on inclusive employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

Through this programme, Inclusion International members Inclusion Uganda, Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria, Down Syndrome Society Bangladesh, and SEID Bangladesh have been testing out innovative strategies for speaking to employers about workplace inclusion.

Delivered through a mix of virtual and in-person sessions, self-advocate leaders have been hosting training workshops for employers to give employers the tools they need to make workplaces more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities. John, a board member at Inclusion Uganda and a self-advocate facilitator for the Uganda employer trainings, said that “when employers hear it from us, it carriers more weight than when it is just our representatives.”

Employers in Uganda, Nigeria, and Bangladesh have heard directly from self-advocates about the barriers they face to accessing formal sector employment and got clear direction from self-advocates about how to make their workplaces more inclusive.

Self-advocates felt that the opportunity to speak to employers directly was impactful, and that it helped the employers to get a better understanding of what they can contribute to an inclusive workplace. Sam, a self-advocate facilitator for the Uganda session, said that “when we speak with the employers and reason with them, it sends a clear picture of what we can do when given the chance for employment.”

Shilamoni, self-advocate and board member at SEID said that through the training, “employers get to know about the potentials and capabilities of the self-advocates, and also would get an idea about what self-advocates can do.” Awele, self-advocate and staff member at Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria also said that it was important for employers to hear from her “so that they can believe that the self-advocates can speak for themselves.”

Otonu, a self-advocate and staff member at Down Syndrome Society Bangladesh who facilitated the Bangladesh training session agreed – “It is important for employers to hear from us directly because it is good for us to face the employers and to raise our voices for inclusive employment and show our skills for the jobs. I felt very much happy and delighted to meet the employers in the training and shared to them that as adults with Down syndrome we have rights for our skill-based suitable employment in the community.”

The trainers were received well by employers, who gave positive feedback to the self-advocates about the sessions and hope to engage further with the Inclusive Futures programme. Sanjid, a self-advocate from SEID, reported that “employers assured us saying ‘They are with us’. Employers acknowledged that we can work and expressed interest to hire people with disabilities.”

In the next phase of the project, Inclusion International members will work with these employers directly to provide one-on-one support for making their workplaces more inclusive.

Read more about the work Inclusion International and our members are doing through Inclusive Futures here.

To read more about the other innovative models being tested by other Inclusive Futures partner organizations, visit www.inclusivefutures.org/innovation.