With all the things going on in the world right now, you can be forgiven if you have missed the fact that in Antwerp there is a mini Olympic games going on for athletes with intellectual disability (ID). With over 2000 participants from all over the world, this event is one of the more uplifting news stories of the day.

 

To co-inside with the games, The University of Antwerp’s management school organized a symposium to share their latest scientific research on the topic of inclusion of people with ID into the work place. 

 

A colleague of mine suggested I should attend, bearing in mind the challenges that David (the CEO in my last book ‘Transition’) is facing in having to lay off production staff, some of which have ID. 

 

Up until now, most people with ID (that have a job) can be found working in special factory type institutions, usually performing simple, repetitive tasks.  But research has shown that many people with ID are capable of much more and given the right environment can develop new and useful skills. As you can imagine, in today’s economic climate people with ID are pretty far down the scale of eligibility for work, their main competitors on the market place being prisoners and ‘normal’ people.

 

But new interesting research is about to begin to see how best people with ID can be included into the traditional work place, working along-side their ‘normal’ colleagues. What kinds of jobs are they particularly suited for, under what conditions can they meet their potential?  

 

From an economic point of view, employing people with ID can be very attractive due to the incentives that most European employers can benefit from.  But I believe we need to see way beyond incentives and discover sustainable economic platforms if we are to make this a reality.

 

Professor Roy McConkey of the University of Ulster reminded us that we humans are social animals and whether we talk about people with ID or not, the aspirations that most of us have for our children revolve around inclusion into society. Typically they are:

1. To become educated

2. To find a job

3. To become independent

4. To have lots of friends

5. To find a sexual partner.

 

So my question is this – would you consider employing Emily? And if you have influence in your workplace, would you be interested to find out more about this life changing opportunity? If so, please feel free to contact me and I will put you in touch with the researchers.

 

Have a good week,

 

Harley