In addition to analyzing supporting and inhibiting factors, the project also aims to achieve exemplary improvements in transitions to the regular labor market and thus to show how the conditions for greater utilization of the Budget for Work and thus also vocational inclusion can be achieved. For people with disabilities, it is still difficult to move from the sheltered labor market of workshops for people with disabilities to employment in regular companies, even if the personal prerequisites, skills and necessary motivation for this change are given. In the course of improved inclusive development of individual employment biographies, this is precisely where various support programs come in. A prominent initiative at the federal level since 2018 has been the Budget for Work. The initiative, which is anchored in the Federal Participation Act, is designed to promote employment of people in the regular labor market through two support measures: Firstly, wage subsidies to the employer as "compensation for reduced performance" of the employees, and secondly by supporting and accompanying employees at the workplace that is made available to the affected persons for individual integration into companies of the regular labor market.
"By positioning themselves as customers, those affected become active players in the search process for a job. This is intended to systematically supplement the previous, very theoretical path of switching to the regular labor market via the sheltered workshop", describes project employee Christiane Bartosch. In the Budget for Work initiative, the workshops, integration specialist services, companies and, above all, the affected persons themselves form a team to make the targeted transition possible.
The KU researchers conducted 70 interviews with experts, including participants in the Budget for Work program. The evaluation of the interviews revealed four sub-areas that contribute to the success of the program: the legal framework, the people affected, the workshops and the employers. "What is surprising is the very inconsistent legal and administrative implementation of the Budget for Work program across the country. Regional responsibilities, sponsorships, application procedures and, not least, benefits and entitlements vary considerably", describes Professor Thomas. For example, wage and travel subsidies are handled very differently. This also applies to the eminently important practice of pension consulting. As a result, Professor Thomas continues, there would be information deficits, a sense of disengagement on the part of the rehabilitation provider, unfair treatment experienced, and more difficult process handling. The workshops, in turn, follow their so-called triple mandate – that is, the mandate of rehabilitation, inclusion and economic efficiency. As a result, they would have a special interest in retaining top performers at their facilities. For the target group itself, the researchers identified strong uncertainty and concern. Professor Thomas emphasizes: "It is a special, demanding hurdle for people with disabilities to fight for the possibility of transition as their right, if necessary against the advice of their environment." Employers are also simply not knowledgeable enough about which work profiles in their company may actually be suitable for the target group, he said. They would have limited time resources and strategies at hand, and recommendations for action are not in place.
From these findings, the group of researchers derives that the legal and administrative framework must be made more transparent and comparable. In addition, it was essential to take into account the interests of the workshops for people with disabilities, as they were key partners in the network.