One hundred jobs at the UvA are currently being filled by people with an occupational disability, according to a recent measurement of the Participation Act. This is higher than the target number of jobs for this year.
Project leader Annemarie Vis-Bot explains: ‘At the start of 2013, a ‘social agenda’ was agreed in the Netherlands that would give job prospects to people who had, up until then, had limited access to the regular job market. It was agreed that by the end of 2023, the public sector would create 25,000 jobs for people with an occupational disability.’
At the end of July 2013, the UvA signed a cooperation agreement with Pantar Amsterdam, a work reintegration agency, to set up a joint work-learning company. This collaboration fit with the UvA’s vision that everyone should have the chance to learn.
Wil van Zijl, department head of Roeterseiland at Facility Services, is the pivotal partner in the collaboration with Pantar. Five years ago, she faced a major challenge when the Roeterseiland campus was about to begin large-scale renovations. Together with Pantar, she designed the learning and work trajectories.
Van Zijl: ‘Over a period of 10 to 12 months, people get the opportunity to obtain work experience at the UvA. This involves activities such as cleaning kitchens, managing waste flows, maintaining the grounds, setting up events and managing rooms. A number of people also work as bicycle coaches, showing staff and students where they can park their bikes.’
The cooperation is working well for both parties. Van Zijl: ‘People with an occupational disability like working at the UvA, they are motivated and proud, and there is a good atmosphere. People are allowed to make mistakes, but if need be they also correct each other. In any case, it is always solved with understanding.’
UvA employees also see that this initiative has value. ‘Thanks to the cooperation with Pantar, we can deliver more quality for the same budget, because we can deploy more people. Employees notice, for example, that the kitchen areas are clean every day. As a result, visibility and awareness in the organisation has also increased,’ according to Van Zijl.
The cooperation between the UvA and Pantar has expanded in recent years as more faculties have moved to Roeterseiland campus, resulting in more work. This lead to the UvA’s achievement in September 2017 of 100 jobs for people with occupational disabilities.
HR Director Lucas van Wees is also proud of this success. ‘This result is all the more impressive because an interim measurement showed that in the public sector as a whole, the target of 6,500 jobs by the end of 2016 was not achieved, and the number of jobs even decreased compared to 2015. For the UvA, the objective in the social agreement was that by the end of 2019, 72.5 jobs would be realised, a figure that we’ve already achieved.’
Van Wees emphasises the UvA’s social engagement in the area of labour participation. ‘With the advent of the Participation Act and the jobs agreement, the UvA has started looking into ways to become a more inclusive employer for people who are on the margins of the labour market. Together with the employee organisations in the University Local Consultative Committee (UCLO), three specific target groups were selected for which extra efforts are being made. These are the employees from the work- learn company, academically trained refugees and young alumni with a disability (receiving Wajong disability benefits).’
Vis-Bot points out that realising 100 jobs doesn’t mean that the matter does not deserve attention anymore. She calls on managers to continue thinking about drawing on people with an occupational disability. ‘We have achieved a nice milestone, now on to the next!’