MFOPD is proud to have been the major instigator for the introduction of Supported Employment in Malta.
Supported Employment in Malta took long in the making. Throughout the initial years of lobbying by the MFOPD officials and activists, the term ‘supported employment’ was akin to a swear word. The people that mattered had no idea what the concept was about and, to add insult to injury, nobody wanted to change the status quo within the traditional tools being then utilized for employment purposes.
At least one of those tools, namely sheltered employment, was being constantly abused and thus was mercilessly cheating clients using that particular employment mode. Most of the latter were vulnerable persons with physical and/or mental disabilities. This form of employment method was, and still is, a complete affront to the specific articles ratified by Malta in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
SE Chronology of Events
• 1975 - 1978.
Supported Employment was developed in the United States in the 1970s as part of both vocational rehabilitation (VR) services and the advocacy for long term services and supports (LTSS) for individuals with significant disabilities in competitive job placements in integrated settings.
For the first time, supported employment is defined in the Rehabilitation Act in the United States, as amended.
By 1985, supported employment based on community integration had diverse vocational models in the US, including the social relationship concept of “disabled and non-disabled co-workers” working side-by-side in integrated workplaces. Both consumers and parents supported the new movement, seeking better opportunities for jobs, and later careers.
In Malta, the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) – now Jobsplus - was established in August
1990 through an act of Parliament entitled the Employment and Training Services Act. The legal status given was that of a public corporation whereby it was managed by a Chairman and
Board of Directors appointed by Government, and by executive management personnel.
The European Union of Supported Employment is constituted. The SE method slowly starts being introduced throughout Europe. By that year, countries like Germany, Norway and the Scandinavian countries (e.g., Iceland, Denmark) and the United Kingdom are already experimenting, mostly on municipality level, the concept of Supported Employment.
In this year, Steven Byer who visited the US from the United Kingdom, authored a chapter on Real Jobs and Supported Employment for a leading book, “Values and Visions” by the King’s Fund Linda Ward. Prior to that book, Britain’s Ordinary Lives leader David Towell (with Beardshaw) cited the US supported employment model in “Enabling Community Integration” to assist public authorities in the UK to move toward integration in community life.
The World Association of Supported Employment was founded in 1995 and has since promoted supported employment. In 2003, with the help of the International Labour
Organization (ILO), a special CD Rom and Handbook was produced for developing countries and organizations who are interested in introducing supported employment.
• November 2010.
The Maltese National Federation of Organisations and Persons with Disability (MFOPD) is celebrating its 40th anniversary by means of a national conference entitled ‘Vision 2015’. The conference dwelt on three particular topics: Adult Education, Independent Living and Supported Employment.
• Michael J. Evans, President of the European Union of Supported Employment at that time, was one of the keynote speakers of the conference. His contribution was focused primarily on the need to introduce supported employment in Malta.
• December 2010. The European Union of Supported Employment, in partnership with the EU Leonardo Program, publishes the European Union Supported Employment Toolkit. To date, albeit regularly updated, this toolkit is considered as the bible of Supported Employment. The toolkit is the brainchild of Michael J. Evans.
• 2011. Throughout the year, the MFOPD started lobbying and making pressure on the various local government Ministers and authorities to introduce Supported Employment in Malta.
• April 2012.
Two Maltese registered NGOs, independently from the efforts of the Maltese Disability Federation
(MFOPD), set up a new project, the ‘Believe in ME Project’. It is the first voluntary and free of charge attempt locally for proper Supported Employment methods to be enacted locally. The project caters for twenty clients and has absolutely no government funding.
• September 2012.
Michael J Evans and MFOPD officials attend top level lobbying meetings with the Hon. Minister Dr. Chris Said and with the highest officials of the National Commission of Persons with Disability (KNPD), the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) and Agenzija Sapport of the Government’s Foundation for Social Welfare Services.
• January 2013.
The Maltese Disability Federation (MFOPD) applies for financial help through the National Lotteries Good Causes Fund for the project ‘Developing Supported Employment in Malta.’ This project would be the catalyst for ensuring the constitution of the Malta Association of Supported Employment.
• December 2013.
Meeting on Supported Employment by MFOPD and Michael J Evans with the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Franco Mercieca.
• January 2014.
The MFOPD project ‘Developing Supported Employment in Malta’ appoints a working group in order to establish, constitute and register a national association for supported employment.
• February 2014.
Meeting on Supported Employment by MFOPD and Michael J. Evans with the Hon Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. Also, top level meetings with ETC officials.
• March 2014.
Meeting on Supported Employment by MFOPD and Michael J. Evans with the Hon Minister Evarist Bartolo and the new ETC Executive Chairman. A Supported Employment Training Seminar was also held during this month by Michael J. Evans, aptly named Training the Trainers, just weeks before the constitution of the Malta Association of Supported Employment.
• 8th April 2014
The constitution of the Malta Association of Supported Employment is unanimously approved by means of an extraordinary general meeting of the representatives of the NGOs operating in the vulnerable sector and officials from the government entities and departments who also operate in this socio-economic field.
• July, August 2014
MASE Council meetings with the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Dr. Justine Caruana.
• September 2014
From this month onwards, MASE officials start a lengthy process of brainstorming and operational meetings with the highest officials of the Ministry of the Family and Social Solidarity, spearheaded by the Ministry’s Policy and Research Coordinator, Dr. Joseph D. Borg. These meetings, including several sessions with the Hon. Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, Dr. Michael Farrugia, have one aim in mind: to ensure that a professional, national supported employment pilot program is properly administered by MASE in order to ensure that social beneficiaries falling under the Ministry’s responsibilities by means of its various programs and agencies can be properly taken care of.
• June 2015
In a press conference at the Ministry, the Hon. Minister Dr. Michael Farrugia announces the first Supported Employment pilot project (from June to December 2015) and oversees the signing of the related contract by the representative of the Ministry’s Permanent
Secretary and the officials of the Malta Association of Supported Employment.
• September 2015
MASE organizes its first award giving ceremony to its successful clients and announces that the December target of successes have already been nearly met. The Hon. Minister Dr. Michael Farrugia, who addressed the event, promptly doubles MASE targets for December 2015.
• November 2015
After the needed statutory changes, MASE is fully enrolled with the office of the Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations - VO Number 1159.
• December 2015
The Supported Employment Pilot Project’s target of 80 full time supported employees is surpassed. Registered Supported Employees amount to 145.
• January 2016
The National Supported Employment Pilot Program now incorporates targets linked with government’s national anti-poverty program. Success targets for the year 2016 are set: a minimum of 375 full time supported employees.
• June 2016
Job Coaches and other Supported Employment personnel start a MASE Level IV Diploma Course in Employment Support, the first of its kind in Malta, accredited by the National Commission for Higher Education.
• August 2016
By the end of August 2016, the Positive Supported Employment Program administered by the Malta Association of Supported Employment registers 425 successes, 347 of which are totally linked to MFSS’s National Anti-Poverty Program.
• September 2016
MASE is registered as the Malta representative of the European Union of Supported Employment, the Malta representative within the World Association of Supported Employment and is accepted as a member of the European Network of Independent Living.
• October 2016
Apart from its Supported Employment Services from its premises in Pieta, Malta and Xewkija, Gozo; apart from its referred services from all the government’s LEAP Centres throughout the island, MASE Job Coaches start offering the program in situ at the Corradino Correctional Facility for inmates prior to their being released.
• December 2016
The final numbers of successful beneficiaries of the Supported Employment Pilot Project are announced: instead of the targeted 375 successes, MASE reports a total of 526 successes and placements, 34.41% of which are persons with disability; 6.27% of which hail from Gozo. Only 66% of the proposed financial budget was utilized in obtaining these results.
• The Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, in a press conference at the Ministry, announces that, as from 2017, due to the huge success of the Supported Employment Pilot Project, the services will be given out to recipients from government agencies. He publicly thanks the endeavours of MASE and announces that all MASE staff working on the Supported Employment pilot project will be incorporated within the government agency.
• January 2017
A number of government entities and agencies, plus a number of NGOs, mostly members of MFOPD and/or MASE, continue providing supported employment services.
• February 2017
MFOPD, together with the European Disability Forum and the European Union of Supported Employment, host a European Conference in Malta with all the European National Disability Federations and the European Supported Employment agencies sending their delegates, which amount to over 250 delegates. EDF and EUSE officials meet the highest authorities of the island, including Her Excellency the President of Malta, the Honourable Prime Minister of Malta and the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Rights of Persons with Disability. EDF and EUSE top leaders communicate to the Maltese authorities how pleased they are with the successes registered locally in supported employment.
• June 2017
MFOPD is invited to chair one of the workshops and provide a keynote speaker for the first world conference on Supported Employment, which was held in Belfast, Northern Ireland and which hosted nearly 700 delegates from around the world.
• July 2017
MFOPD signed a memorandum of understanding with The President's Trust, under H.E. The President of Malta, in which both organisations have teamed up to offer free professional services to the disabled and the disadvantaged. These services are focused to ensure full social and economic integration of the beneficiaries, skill building and regular assessments, professional aid and advice, job coach support to ensure that the beneficiaries choose occupational positions which are synchronized with their physical and mental capabilities; but more importantly, that the beneficiaries keep their work place on a long term basis.
• October 2017
The first 20 successful recipients of the MQF Level IV Diploma in Employment Support receive their certificates at a ceremony presided by Her Excellency the President of Malta.