Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Personal motivation | key ingredient for employment

During our interviews with trainees and trainers, something became really clear: Personal motivation is a key ingredient in the employability equation. The key for organizations like the Foundation is to help people find that motivation or incentive those to exploit it more when already present. I must admit that I never worked on a research project before involving disabled people and the Foundation, its staff, and beneficiaries really educated me about their potential, their needs, and their professional and personal goals. Ignorance is definitely our worst enemy.

Many of the trainees we interviewed during this field research had something in common: They all had a career and professional life before they got sick and felt into the poverty and activelessness track. Danuta was a teacher in primary school, before she felt ill 17 years ago with an extreme form of rheumatism that caused her to loose her job. As she bluntly put it: "They [the government] scratch me from the teaching profession for life. For them, I had no place in schools despite all my experience and dedication". Maciej (not actual name), another trainer and former trainee, was an art curator that felt sick and also lost his job. "I even tried to learn some ICT programs that could help me stay in my job, but to no avail". Another lady, was a classical musician. And the stories go on and on.

The motivation of people that previously had an active and professional life is very different from those that have been living under the "culture of unemployment" for a long time, if not all their lives. NGOs need to recognize this important difference and exploit the motivation of the former, and incentive that of the latter group of people. This is a subtle but an important difference that must be taken into account when designing training and professional programs for disabled groups, and for other groups as well.

If the Foundation wants to know if it is succeeding in changing perceptions in society about disabled people, they definitely changed mine, they definitely educated me all right!

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