PROFARM Influence Policy Plan in Germany

Involving young persons with disabilities into vocational training on social farms in order to increase/improve their future chances on the labour market.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) claims the „right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others“. In the field of vocational guidance programmes persons with disabilities should be enabled „to have effective access” (Art. 27 1. and 1.(d)).

The German labour market is far from being inclusive. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities criticised this in its Concluding Observations on the initial report of Germany. And the „Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte”(German Institute for Human Rights – DIMR), which is the monitoring institution for the implementation of the CRPD in Germany, recently claimed to completely transform the German labour market in order to become an inclusive one.

Persons with disabilities may have the same rights to work on an equal basis with others in Germany, but they do not have the same chances/possibilities.

There are severe structural problems for an inclusive labour market: as long as the German labour market is not restructured in an inclusive and social way and as long as productivity and maximization of earnings are the main criteria for generating employment, persons who do not match these criteria, or have special needs for assistance to work at all, will have severe problems to get a job, with which they can gain a living.

Germany recognized this and passed legislation for the creation of sheltered workplaces. Since the 1960s and 70s Germany has a well-established system of these sheltered workshops (Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen – WfbM). The WfbM are specialized in providing good working environments for persons with disabilities. This includes the physical workspace, technical and personal assistance, and special training in the field of personal and professional development (§ 136 ff. SGB IX). But working in a WfbM does not only give persons with disabilities the possibility to find a good working place in an appropriate environment, the WfbM generate a social environment and a sheltered space as well. Here persons with disabilities engage in social contacts with colleagues and clients or customers. As a result, persons with disabilities often like their work at a WfbM and prefer this kind of work compared to the regular labour market outside of these sheltered environments, where in most of the cases they would be the only employee with a disability (if they manage to get a regular paid job at all). This is recognized by the DIMR. In their latest position paper the DIMR say, that the exclusive structures of the German labour market are one of the main reasons why persons with disabilities prefer to seek work in a sheltered workshop. But although they recognize those exclusive labour market structures, the DIMR states that Germany has to dissolve their system of sheltered workshops: It is considered by the DIMR to be a „Sonderwelt” (separate sphere). In its strict argumentation it therefore follows the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2015) in the Concluding observations on the initial report of Germany.

It is true that working in a WfbM does not allow persons with disabilities to gain their own living. But this is a criterion for the right to work within the CRPD. The salaries that „Werkstattbeschäftigte” (persons with disabilities who work in a WfbM) earn are far too low: Last year’s wages of disabled employees in WfbM reached an average of only 180 € a month. At least the WfbM is embedded in the social welfare system, meaning, that Werkstattbeschäftigte have full health insurance, earn claims for retirement payment, and get their living expenses paid by social transfers.

Anthropoi Bundesverband believes that in the given socioeconomic situation the anthroposophic WfbM, which are part of the association, do provide with their “Angebote zur Teilhabe am Arbeitsleben” (offers to be part of working society) good working environments for persons with disabilities. These WfbM strive to create meaning and significance by providing persons with special needs employment and empowerment. Through their work these people can take an active role in the economic and social life in their community. If the expected new law to govern the inclusion of persons with disabilities (Bundesteilhabegesetz – BTHG) comes into effect in 2017, the system of participation in this field of work will change. Along with WfbM there will be smaller and less regulated services (Andere Leistungsanbieter, other suppliers of services) and a new subvention scheme, the budget for work (Budget für Arbeit). Anthropoi Bundesverband sees the given task to rethink and maybe open up the closed and narrow minded German WfbM system. There is also a chance to rethink the economic and socio-economic structures that make a system of sheltered workshops necessary . WfbM and other similar services (e.g. Sonstige Beschäftigungsstätten, other places offering occupation) within Anthropoi Bundesverband should be prepared to implement new approaches and to play an active role in this transformation process. We want to support young persons with disabilities to gain the vocational training they need and later on to support their professional development in a field where the young people wish to work. Anthropoi Bundesverband wants to generate the appropriate professional, social and personal support that is needed. The main goal is that persons with disabilities should be enabled to make a free choice of their profession and to choose where they like to work. This could then be in newly structured and opened sheltered workshops or on a job on the regular labour market. For Anthropoi Bundesverband it will be essential that the support for persons with disabilities, their working and living conditions as well as their livelong chances for personal development are respected, protected and given as for everyone else.

Within PROFARM, together with our international partners and our German partner PETRARCA, we like to search for new ways of vocational training that provide persons with (intellectual) disabilities the qualification, support and empowerment each of them needs individually in the fields of farming or gardening. The main goal will be to set up a training system (with modular structure) that is flexible and transformable enough to fit into different kinds of services of labour participation (and professional education).

Within PROFARM, we like to improve the quality of the vocational training within WfbM in the field of farming/gardening.

Within PROFARM, we also want to raise awareness of the concept of social farming in the society; especially within the agricultural sector itself, as well as the relevant welfare services, as a good working place for persons with intellectual disabilities.

With PROFARM we also want to raise the awareness of competences that persons with disabilities can bring to a company, especially in the green sector. Vocational training may be a first step into this direction.

Appropriate vocational training is a crucial basis

A kind of vocational training is already part of the German WfbM system. It is obligatory for young persons with disabilities who start working in a WfbM to begin with a professional training which is called Berufsbildungsbereich (BBB, vocational training). The BBB as vocational training has to be certified by the national labour agency for each single WfbM (AZAV certification). The trainees receive a basic professional training that includes typical professional knowledge as well as training for social and personal development. The curricula are based on the official vocational trainings of the German dual system as well as the special needs of the young participants.  The BBB usually takes two years. But until now the BBB is not estimated as official vocational training. At the moment there are no generally accepted certificates or diplomas at the end of this training phase. For the field of farming and gardening we want to improve this situation with PROFARM.

The German association of sheltered workshops (BAG WfbM) is working on this aim as well. They took the first step with their initiative to harmonize the training schedules of the BBB for common professions, asking all WfbM to use these as the basis for their BBB.

Since in the federal system of Germany vocational training like education is part of the sovereignty of the 16 Bundesländer (federal states) there are now initiatives on this level to agree on recognized certificates. For example, in Saxony such an agreement has been reached: The regional association of the WfbM (LAG Sachsen), the labour agency, the chamber of trade (IHK) and chambers of crafts agreed about training modules and official certificates. This should help trainees of the BBB to get a certificated training comparable to regular apprenticeships and make it easier to find a paid job on the first labour market (or internship) afterwards. And it should make the decision easier for employers to give employment to people with disabilities,  as well. Anthropoi Bundesverband supports these efforts. With PROFARM we want to follow this example.

Changing the way our society thinks labour and economy

Anthropoi Bundesverband sees the certification as a first step to rethink labour and economy. A certificate would have two effects: It tells not only the employer about the work skills of a person, but also gives the person who gains such a certificate some self-esteem and confidence. With PROFARM we aim to reach a similar outcome in the field of social farming.

Vocational training is crucial for the chances on the labour market. PROFARM may support to develop the vocational training within the BBB in the WfbM of Anthropoi Bundesverband in Germany and to develop a recognized certificate within this field (for an example module).

Both German Partners Anthropoi Bundesverband and PETRARCA want to look for possibilities to improve the BBB in the field of social farming. In Germany social farming has a long tradition. Social farms provide good jobs and workplaces for persons with disabilities. Through PROFARM we want to improve consciousness within the agricultural sector for this type of farming. It goes beyond simple agricultural production since it has a real social aspect like care for the cultural landscape. This can be a surplus value provided by multifunctional farms including people with special needs. We try to set up a network of social farms within Anthropoi Bundesverband and external partners like the local agencies of labour, professional schools and scientists to generate a module as part of a learning framework within BBB, that qualifies young persons with disabilities to gain an official certificate.

We therefore want to include several stakeholders:

•        from farms to WfbM: as partners in developing the traineeships as well as the training-framework of the case-managers and improve professional expertise in this field

•        from agricultural, economic and social associations as well as educational and political institutions to the political levels and governing bodies: as partners to get acceptance and recognition of those training modules with the aim of certification

•        from institutions to public welfare services: as partners for support and financing

•        from individual consumers to the general society: in raising the consciousness

Therefore, we aim to build a cooperation and set up three regional networks including all relevant stakeholders at different levels, raise awareness for social farming and the needs of young persons with disabilities as well as for their performance-possibilities to show what they could deliver as a contribution to the society and the economy. It will be necessary to strengthen the competences in professional training within our member organizations in the frame of the BBB in order to have good and appropriate measures to support young persons with disabilities to get the job they want in the field of farming or gardening.



BAG WfbM 2016: Industrie 4.0: Eine Chance für die Arbeitswelt von behinderten Menschen?; Pressemitteilung vom 14.07.2016

BAG WfbM 2016: Was sind Werkstätten? Auf: (22.07.2016)

Becker, Uwe 2016: Die Inklusionslüge. Behinderung im flexiblen Kapitalismus

Palleit, Leander 2016:  Inklusiver Arbeitsmarkt statt Sonderstrukturen. Warum wir über die Zukunft der Werkstätten sprechen müssen; Position Nr. 2 Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte;

Sozialgesetzbuch Neuntes Buch – Rehabilitation behinderter Menschen, Kapitel (SGB IX)

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):