The integrated employment rate of people with intellectual disabilities is less than 5%, and it is urgent to improve the service system to support the employment of persons with disabilities

"You can't let him go out of school to retire"

□ "Rule of Law Weekend" reporter Dai Leilei

□ Wen Lijuan, reporter of this newspaper

Simple movements, tried and repeated, 20-year-old autistic youth Liu Shiyu is trying to adapt to the vocational training for himself. Six months ago, he started his career transfer course in a supermarket in Beijing, experiencing different types of work such as vegetable baling, cart work, and vegetable picking. For ordinary people, these jobs are easy to do, but only his mother, Shen Tong, knows how difficult it is for an autistic child to get to this day.

Liu Shiyu is lucky - Li Shijie, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Democratic National Construction Association, showed that there are currently 1800 million people with licensed disabilities of working age in China, but by the end of 2021, the scale of employment of licensed disabled people was 881.6 million, with an employment rate of less than 50%. Among them, 1200 million people with mental disabilities (including autism and intellectual disabilities) have an employment rate of less than 5%.

What to do after school

Dependent parents for lack of employment

For most autistic people, graduating from compulsory school is like entering "retirement" early - even if they can grow up in integrated education, once they leave school, they will have to rely on their parents at home because of lack of work income and lack of welfare protection.

Shen Tong felt this deeply. With the help of teachers and classmates, Liu Shiyu first completed primary school at an integrated education school, and then entered junior high school. But this did not let Shen Tong let go of his worries, because after he graduated from junior high school, there was no corresponding school to attend.

"The child is only a teenager, and there is nowhere to go?" Shen Tong was worried.

This is not Shen Tong's anxiety alone, Li Junfeng, vice chairman of the Beijing Economic and Development District Disabled Persons' Federation, has the same anxiety, and his children are also mentally disabled.

Before the child turned fourteen or fifteen, Li Junfeng, as a parent, felt that it was good for his child to be able to attend an ordinary school. But as soon as the compulsory education stage ended, the whole family immediately fell into confusion, not knowing what to do next. Later, through research, he found that there was a vocational high school in Beijing called Xuanwu Peizhi School, so he decided to send his children to study.

Liu Shiyu later enrolled in a vocational high school at a special education school.

However, the number of autistic children who can progress to higher education is limited. According to a survey conducted by the Beijing Station of the China Association of Mentally Disabled Persons and Their Relatives and Friends, special education schools in Beijing have very limited vocational high school degrees, which is difficult to meet the needs of autistic children to go to school. According to the "2019 Survey Report on the Employment Status and Needs of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities" released by Guangzhou Disabled Persons' Federation and Guangzhou Yangai Parents Club for Special Children (hereinafter referred to as Yangai), in 2019, 16% of people aged 45 to 41 with mental disabilities in Guangzhou had a high school degree or above.

"Even special education schools have made a lot of effort and intervention for their socialization development. However, after the end of the compulsory education stage, because the popularization and development of high school or vocational education still needs to be improved, especially in underdeveloped and underdeveloped areas, the resources are relatively small, and the service system has not kept up. Yang Ai Chairman Dai Rong said.

"When parents are 8 years old, they want to go to a general school, at the age of 14, they want to continue to stay in a general school or go to a special school, and at the age of 16, when the compulsory education is over, they want to find a vocational school for three years, and when they really reach the age of employment, they find that he still knows nothing." So says a parent of an autistic child.

"Generally, we can accompany a child until he or she is fifty or sixty years old, but what about the child in the more than 16 years from the age of 60 to 40? Can't let him go out of school to retire, right? Parents of children with autism expressed such doubts to reporters.

Supporting employment is urgent

Skills assessment pre-job training

The doubts of these parents of autistic children are reflected in a movie "Ocean Paradise" released in 2010 that focuses on autistic groups.

"The film is still very close to the truth, because from the perspective of that time, the education, maintenance, and employment of older mentally disabled young people were all very serious problems. More than 10 years later, the resolution of these problems is still urgent. Li Junfeng said.

The "Survey Report on the Employment Status and Needs of Adult Persons with Intellectual Disabilities" shows that both guardians and people with mental disabilities have a strong demand for employment.

In the interview, the reporter found that in order to solve this problem, some institutions have begun to explore supportive employment for autistic youth since 8 years ago.

"An ordinary person learns and progresses through going out into society and working continuously, and the same is true for people with mental disabilities. Once they return to the closed state of the family, their regression will be more pronounced. Supportive employment can help them truly integrate into society. Li Junfeng said.

In April 2013, the supported employment project was included in the agenda of the Family Support Center for the Intellectually Handicapped in Haidian District, Beijing.

Li Junfeng, who was the person in charge of Rong'ai Rongle at the time, went to many countries and places to find a supportive employment model that is more suitable for China's mentally handicapped people.

In 2014, Rongai Rong Le was selected by the China Association of Intellectually Disabled and Relatives and Friends as one of the six pilot units of the supported employment project in China.

Wang Xuehong, director of operation of Rongai Rongle, told reporters that the project focuses on young people with mental disabilities aged 16 to 25, which is the key age range for them to achieve employment, aiming to build a full-chain employment service system for the disabled covering "human development - employment guidance - supply and demand docking - workplace support". Unlike other employment-promoting programmes, the programme supports this group by a significant advance in age, starting with employment training when they are in vocational school.

The project has special personnel to do job development, communicate with enterprises, propose job designs suitable for people with mental disabilities, and then choose both the company and people with mental disabilities.

Before entering the employment stage, the supportive employment system must first assess the work skills and conduct pre-job training for people with intellectual disabilities.

After starting work, employment counselors accompany people with mental disabilities to work, usually for 3 to 6 months, one-third of which is spent familiarizing themselves with the skills required for the job, and two-thirds of the time is spent helping them establish work cooperation with colleagues and communicate well.

Through this project, Rongai Rong Le tries to let more students come out and become employees of enterprises and normal members of society, so that people can see that autistic people are no longer a burden on society, but also create value for society, so as to strive for their equal participation in social activities and employment opportunities little by little.

There is a serious shortage of professional teams

The institutional system needs to be established urgently

Zhang Yuchen, a young autistic teenager, is one beneficiary of this project.

At the beginning of 2023, 22-year-old Zhang Yuchen finally entered a technology company job with the help of the Rong Ai Rong Le Supportive Employment Program, which is his second job.

Zhang Yuchen was diagnosed with typical autism when he was more than two years old, and although his intelligence is not bad, he has serious communication disorders.

As an adult, Yuchen Zhang's first job was as a network operations engineer. Because he lacked systematic knowledge, necessary communication, and his unit did not know his special situation and did not give corresponding support, Zhang Yuchen's work was very difficult. Finally, the unit arranged for him to go to various communities every day to post small advertisements and distribute leaflets, so he was often driven away by the staff of the community property company.

Once, Zhang Yuchen was detained by the community's security guards when he was posting advertisements at work.

Zhang Yuchen's father, Zhang Fuming, recalled to reporters: "In just ten minutes, only I know how tormented it is for him with serious communication barriers. After I helped him solve this problem, he came home and I asked him if he still wanted to do this job? He lowered his head, a look of trepidation on his face, and said softly, 'Don't do it'. ”

After finishing this work experience, he tried to find a job several times.

"From Yuchen's usual words and deeds, I can see that he is very eager for a job, but many times there is no response to the resume he submits." Zhang Fuming said.

After that, Zhang Yuchen entered the supported employment program.

"Rongai Rongle is not simply to introduce Yuchen to the enterprise, but also to do the preliminary foreshadowing, communicate with the enterprise about the particularity of Yuchen, and send employment counselors to the job for guidance in the early stage." After a month of support, Yuchen's work is on track. Zhang Fuming said.

In Zhang Fuming's view, in just a few months of training, Zhang Yuchen has learned a lot, such as taking the initiative to ask to brush dishes and do housework after eating, and sharing happy things that happened at work with his father when he goes home every day. "Once, when he helped me buy beer from the supermarket, he bought two extra bags of chips, and said one bag for my brother and one bag for him. I was surprised that he was able to think about this for his brother, which had never been done before. I was happy to transfer money to him, and his next words brought tears to my eyes. He said, 'No, I'm at work, I'm rich.' ’”

Zhang Fuming told reporters: "A beautiful picture appeared in my mind at that time, and the ultimate goal we were looking forward to suddenly appeared, that is, he was self-reliant and lived with dignity." ”

The reporter learned from the relatives of autistic people who participated in the supportive employment project that with the implementation of supportive employment in China, the integrated employment environment has promoted the expansion of the scope of life of people with mental disabilities and the improvement of their comprehensive quality, all of which are impossible for them to achieve in their original family, school and isolated environment.

However, there are still many difficulties in supporting employment at this stage. Since 2014, there are only more than 90 young people with mental disabilities (including a small number of autistic people) who have successfully entered the enterprise with the support of Rongai Rongle.

In Li Junfeng's view, the difficulty of supporting employment lies in the lack of professional teams. For a long time in the past, the team of employment counselors has been maintained at about 10, which is difficult to meet the employment support needs of autistic youth.

Liao Juan, associate professor of the School of Management of Capital Normal University, told reporters at a conference on the employment of people with disabilities that in recent years, there have been two major trends and challenges in China's employment of persons with disabilities: first, the gradual refinement of policies, the government's attention to proportional employment continues to increase, but the corresponding service capacity in the society has not improved; Second, state-owned enterprises and private enterprises are paying more and more attention to social responsibility, but the concept of disability still needs to be changed.

Liao Juan called on social organizations to actively develop tools to provide professional assessment services, enterprises need to match suitable positions according to the abilities of the disabled, the disabled should also improve their own ability level, and all parties in society can work together to truly achieve the integration of employment of the disabled.

At the same time, establish and improve the system of supporting the employment education and training system and employment service system for persons with disabilities, implement special policies such as tax exemptions and exemptions for enterprises to absorb the employment of persons with disabilities, and focus on expanding employment opportunities for persons with disabilities by focusing on supporting special enterprises, special industries, and specific groups.

(Rule of Law Daily)