August 6, 2015
A job coach, left, instructs a staff member with intellectual disabilities, right, at a Shell gas station.
In August this year, JICA’s 10-year project in Malaysia “The Project to Support Participation of Person with Disabilities,” begun in 2005, will end. As a replacement for “functional recovery” aimed at rehabilitation from and improvement of impairments, this project has supported the creation of a new social service system not preconditioned on functional recovery to boost the social participation of persons with disabilities. And the project has also supported a whole process from formulating a grand design for increasing opportunities for persons with disabilities to work to designing and establishing a system.
There are two concrete efforts: the first effort is called “supported employment of persons with disabilities (employment supported by a job coach),” which is to support the adjustment to working conditions and the retention of employees with disabilities. The other effort is called Disability Equality Training (DET) (1), which is to let companies understand persons with disabilities as employees and also as clients. Together with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia, JICA has worked to focus on and has been taking on these efforts.
Before the project ended, the Asia Pacific Job Coach Seminar was held in Kuala Lumpur, on May 5-6. It was participated in by representatives of 16 countries mainly from Asian countries, international organizations and groups of persons with disabilities.
At the opening ceremony, Rohani Abdul Karim, minister of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development said, “A system to foster job coaches has been well established in Malaysia.” She emphasized the fruit of the 10-year project.
The largest achievements can be said to be that the project has created a system necessary to promote the employment of persons with disabilities and has arrived at a phase to foster human resources necessary for its operation. Furthermore, Malaysia has started transferring this know-how to other countries.
A job coach, right, assists an employee, left, who has intellectual disabilities, and does linen work at a hotel.
A job coach is an expert who supports the smooth adaptation of persons with disabilities to their workplace, by visiting them at work to help them solve the challenges they are facing. Japan has accumulated know-how since the introduction of the job coach system in 1990’s.
The project started with fostering job coaches, and then took on fostering trainers who nurture human resources. And for the effective use of developed human resources, the project also had supported the creation of a system to provide job coaching services. Under the trainers who were fostered by the project through Training of Trainers (TOT), more than 1,000 participants have already finished their training programs to work as a job coach.
It is said that carrying out DET in a company brings about a positive effect on its employees of deepening their understanding of persons with disabilities, regarding both employing persons with disabilities and providing services to them. Therefore DET is often introduced as a part of an employee’s education program. To introduce it in a company, the project used the same methods as a job coach, first fostering a facilitator (a person who encourages the awareness of participants) who can conduct DET, and then a trainer of facilitators. So far, 61 facilitators and four facilitators’ trainers have been trained.
At the beginning of the program, DET was managed by Japanese experts. But the number of training courses operated mainly by newly trained Malaysian facilitators has been increasing and nearly 300 companies have organized a training program so far.
Among those efforts, companies such as a well-known Malaysian low-cost airline have organized the training program regularly. This effort generated great results, not only for the promotion of an understanding of the employment of persons with disabilities, but also the improvement of the company’s services for customers with disabilities.
A Disability Equality Training for Training of Trainers Seminar was held from Jan. 27 to Feb. 6.
From 2012 in the second phase of the project, a subsidy system was disseminated throughout the country in three years. The costs necessary for the use of DET and job coaches were covered by the Malaysian government. And the project also nurtured human resources in neighboring countries. More than 650 persons with disabilities have successfully found a job through the support of the job coaches.
And now, Malaysian job coach trainers are conducting training programs in China and Jordan through assistance such as JICA’s project. Some of the trainers of DET facilitators have established a consulting firm and extended their field of activities to neighboring countries.
For the future, to be able to organize DET and a job coach training program targeting neighboring countries, the Department of Social Welfare is taking the initiative for its preparations. In the “National Five Year Plan” recently adopted by the Malaysian parliament, support for employment including the introduction of the job coach system was noted as a support for the participation of persons with disabilities in economic activities. This shows that JICA’s efforts have become deeply rooted in Malaysia and a base has been formed for autonomous development.
The project will be terminated in August this year. JICA plans to continue its cooperation with Malaysian authorities as well as fostered personnel, including for projects in other countries.
*Disability Equality Training (DET) is a training program begun in the 1990’s in the United Kingdom. Persons with disabilities become a facilitator in order to encourage participants to recognize (notice) problems which persons with disabilities face in daily life, and to be agents of change for these problems.