Aims and activities
The main objectives of sheltered employment were most frequently cited as being social and occupational integration, and rehabilitation. In many countries (Australia, Denmark, India, Sweden) the provision of jobs in one structure or another was perceived to be the main aim (Belgium even referred to “setting to work”). Others cited the production of goods and services (Costa Rica, Norway, Portugal, South Africa), while the Swedish Samhall enterprise also mentioned financial performance, albeit only fourth on the priority list. In Luxembourg, however, “production is not viewed in terms of output. It is the consequence of a disabled worker’s self-fulfilment rather than an immediate objective”. At the opposite end of the scale from objectives formulated clearly in production, or even in productivity terms, are those concerned with enhancing the disabled workers’ well-being, for example, with restoring their dignity (Australia). Therapeutic treatment as such was mentioned only by Greece, and a purely occupational function only in relation to the Spanish work-based assistance centres.
Certain intermediate objectives were also often mentioned, for example, supplementing disabled workers’ income (South Africa, Spain); vocational training (Australia, Norway, Scotland); and the transition to “ordinary” employment (Argentina, Belgium, Sweden). Although there are no precise data on the types of activity carried out in sheltered employment structures, those most frequently mentioned by the countries examined were, in descending order: subcontracting of an industrial nature (packaging, assembly or manufacturing), manufacturing per se, services, agriculture, and commercial activities.