Barcelona: Inclusive employment in park maintenance
Successful collaboration between a team specialising in the employment of people with disabilities and the municipal park company has helped provide support to individual employees and made the company itself more responsive to their needs.
‘The Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute’ (PGMI) works together with the ‘employment advisory team’ (EAL) of the Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities to improve the integration of people with disabilities in its workforce. At the beginning of the program in 2009, they reprensented 6,4% of the total workforce.
The EAL team conducts observational visits to assess the work situation of people with disabilities working for the Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute. The project team then provides tailored training to each person and establishes individual action plans. These measures are not just about employment : their aim is to improve the overall quality of life of people with disabilities. The EAL also aims at building the skills of the management staff in working with people with disabilities and to shape the company’s organisational processes.
The partnership has brought an improvement of the working environment in PGMI and has helped improve the quality of the parks maintenance work. In 2012, 8.3% of all PGMI employees were people with intellectual, physical, sensory or mental disabilities.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/353-green-web_final.pdf
Background and objectives
‘The Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute’ (PGMI), the public body in charge of maintaining the city’s green spaces, requested support from the city of Barcelona to improve the integration of people with disabilities in its workforce. At the beginning of the partnership in 2009, 6.4% of of all PGMI employees were people with intellectual, physical, sensory or mental disabilities. The company wanted to be more inclusive, but the management lacked the knowledge, skills and resources to support these staff members.
The ‘management assignment’ is an innovative collaboration project between two of Barcelona City Council’s public bodies: the Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute (PGMI) and the ‘employment advisory team’ (EAL) of the Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities.
To improve how PGMI responds to the individual needs of its employees with disabilities, the project team carries out observational visits assessing their work situation and then provides tailored training to each person based on their specific tasks and responsibilities. The EAL team establishes individual action plans, which are regularly monitored and adapted.
The ‘management assignment’ is not just about employment; it aims to improve the overall quality of life of people with disabilities by addressing, where necessary, psychological well being and stability, relationships and social skills, and financial and housing issues. The project team works with an extensive network of professionals from other services including, social NGOs, the city’s healthcare and social services and justice departments. The ‘management assignment’ project also shapes the company’s organisational processes. As a result it is becoming more inclusive and building the skills of the management staff in working with people with disabilities.
This entails for example ensuring that the training provided to all PGMI staff also caters to the needs of employees with disabilities and clarifying health and safety issues to help managers overcome concerns they may have in letting these employees carry out different tasks than usually – this ensures the work becomes less repetitive and improves the wellbeing of workers.
Financing and resources
The project is funded by the Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute (PGMI), which allocates €46,903 annually for the occupational coach and for the management and coordination work carried out by the EAL psychologist. The Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities also makes a small contribution to cover the remaining human resource costs.
Results and impacts
The project also helped improve the quality of the parks maintenance work, due to a more skilled Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute (PGMI) staff and improved operational effectiveness. In the past five years 64 employees with disabilities received support from the project. This led to a substantial improvement of the working environment in PGMI, which is reflected in a significant decrease in sick leave days of employees with disabilities, increased participation of employees with disabilities in company training. It also increased participation of employees with disabilities in company training and increased the ability of people with disabilities to take on more diverse tasks in the company.
A 2012 social impact study by the Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities calculated that for every €1 invested in the programme, €1.38 euro in social value was created. This arises from:
- savings made by the Spanish and Catalan authorities on social security, unemployment, illness benefits and social services,
- tax revenues earned by the central government, and
- Greater independence, empowerment and personal wellbeing, more purchasing power and fewer expenses experienced by people with disabilities and their families.
Barriers and challenges
It took some time for the employment advisory team (EAL) to gain the confidence of the management of the Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute (PGMI) and for PGMI to see the EAL as a positive collaborative partner. This was gradually achieved by open communication and by creating a better understanding of the needs and perceptions of those PGMI managers with responsibility for employees with disabilities. Once established, the PGMI management and EAL worked together on the strategies so that the PGMI management had ownership of the project’s goals.
Lessons learned and transferability
In Green Jobs for social inclusion (see references), EUROCITIES identifies three main factors that contribute to the success of these city initiatives to create green jobs for social inclusion at the local level.
1. Combining demand and supply side interventions: an intervention does not solely focus on developing people’s competences, skills and motivation (supply side intervention) but also aims to create a tangible route into the labour market (demand side intervention).
On the demand side, the programme's objective is to provide a ‘protected’ working environment with the view of supporting people to gain real work experience to enable them to compete in the mainstream labour market.
These demand side interventions are then complemented by well-matched activation and training measures (supply side interventions) helping people to gain specific skills and improve their chances of accessing the labour market.
2. Linking the interventions to local employment opportunities
The second success factor is the strong link between the programmes and local employment opportunities. Cities as the level of government closest to the people have an in-depth knowledge of their local labour markets. They can design programmes in line with local economic demand and prepare people for jobs that are available locally. The effectiveness of the demand and supply interventions is made stronger when they are grounded in local businesses and job market needs.
3. Tailoring activation measures to the specific needs of people
The third success factor of the programmes is linking the activation measures to the specific needs of the target groups.
For local authorities, programmes that combine greening and social inclusion bring added value, particularly during periods of budgetary constraint and growing demand for services. Integrated programmes that address several objectives with one investment bring efficiency to local interventions. Given the longer term perspective of the sector, linking job seekers to local jobs in the green economy should continue to bring results as the sector is set to grow.
The future aim is to reduce the need for direct intervention by the employment advisory team (EAL), which will prove that the Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute team is able to implement EAL guidelines independently across the company.
The Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities plans to apply this model in other public authority institutions to improve the integration of workers with disabilities.
More information on the success factors: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/green_jobs_for_social_inclusion_intro_FINAL.pdf
"Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes", in Green Jobs for social inclusion, EUROCITIES, June 2015, 14-15.
Assessment of the social impact of the Job Placement Programme from the Municipal Institute for Persons with Disabilities at Barcelona's Parks and Gardens Municipal Institute: http://w110.bcn.cat/BarcelonaAccessible/Continguts/ParksAndGardensJobPlacementImpact.pdf (accessed 22 october 2015)