Sheltered Workshops vs Competitive, Integrated Employment
When you hear hear “employment for people with disabilities,” what do visualize? The first picture that enters many people’s head is a sheltered workshop. In sheltered workshops, groups of individuals with disabilities work side-by-side. Often these people with disabilities have similar disabilities to each other. Sheltered workshops help many people but are not competitive, integrated employment situations.
- Sheltered workshops are often run by nonprofits to employ people with disabilities.
- Employment in sheltered workshops is often based on their disability.
- Their work is often light assembly.
- Pay to people with disabilities in sheltered workshops is usually very low, sometimes even below minimum wage.
- People who participate in sheltered workshops can often only earn up to a certain amount before they become ineligible for state assistance.
My great aunt participated in a program like this. Due to the extent of her intellectual disability, this was a good environment for her to do something during the day. Also, it gave time back to my grandparents, who were her full time caregivers. For this reason, I would argue that these programs do have an inherent value in our society and are appropriate for some people with disabilities.
Competitive, Integrated Employment Matters
When sheltered workshops are the only thing society envisions when they picture “work for people with disabilities,” we are discounting the abilities of many people.
Every person with a disability also has a unique range of abilities. We cannot make assumptions about a person’s ability because many people with disabilities are capable of competitive and integrated employment in the regular workforce.
Competitive and integrated employment means:
Competitive: Their employment is primarily contingent on their ability to perform the work.
Integrated: They are working side-by-side with people who do not have disabilities.
Peak Performers Staffing Agency was established to help people with disabilities find competitive, integrated employment. This means:
- The most qualified applicant who has a disability gets the job. (We cannot help every job seeker with a disability find work.)
- Some if our employees we have to terminate for failure to meet expectations.
- Our employees are paid competitive wages and offered competitive benefits.
- Some of our employees will work for Peak for multiple assignments.
- Many of our employees will go onto get hired by the client or find other competitive jobs.
- Sometimes a client will know an employee of ours has a disability (since it is visible) and sometimes they won’t (if it’s an invisible disability).
People with disabilities are a large group of people with varying abilities and also varying limitations–just like people without disabilities! If you are ready to hire people with disabilities, first look at the person and then at the disability. If you utilize this mindset, you’ll be surprised by what they’re capable of.
If you’re not sure how start but are interested in employing people with disabilities, we can help!