Emma at Work kickstarts the career of young people with a physical disability – and they are enthusiastic at Schiphol

A good start in the job market can provide confidence that you will carry with you for the rest of your career. But for some people, a false start lurks before they even start working.

Emma at Work, an organization that was founded from the Emma Children’s Hospital in Amsterdam, wants to prevent this by supporting young adults with a physical condition in the initial phase of their working life. The company wants to reduce the gap between these young people and society by means of training, coaching and getting to know the large network of companies that the organization has built up in the meantime.

“We believe in a society in which everyone can participate,” says director Marlies van Hilten. Business Insider discussed this with her. Bas Simons – lead talent sourcing at Royal Schiphol Group, an organization that has already entered into a trajectory with Emma at Work several times – joined us.

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Who exactly is Emma at Work intended for?

Van Hilten: “We focus on young people between the ages of 15 and 30 with a physical condition. This may involve a disability, but also, for example, a chronic illness such as rheumatism.”

“Young people do not have to submit proof to us that they are really ill. Anyone who has the feeling that they are lagging behind in their work due to a physical condition can register with us. In the introductory meeting that follows, we find out together what we can do for them.”

So the young people who register with you do not all receive the same guidance?

Van Hilten: “Not always. We look at what each person needs. Every young person follows her or his own route with us. We offer a fixed development program, our GAP Track, where we look at each individual’s needs and which components are interesting for them.” “They can, for example, follow job application training or a coaching process, but we also have mentor programs where young people within our network, and therefore the business community.” “When we started 15 years ago, the idea was initially to help young people with a physical disadvantage to find a job as an employment agency, but that turned out to be too short-sighted. These young people often need more than just making a connection.”

Van Hilten Not always

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“Sometimes it’s just a little bit of support. If someone enters a company through us, the employer already knows in advance that ‘something is going on’.We not only help young people with a good start in the labor market, but also encourage companies to become more inclusive.”

“About 25 companies – including major players such as ING, Unilever, the Public Prosecution Service and therefore also Schiphol – have already joined our network, which we have named GAP200. It differs per company how intensive the collaboration with Emma at Work is.”

What is the reason for companies to do business with Emma at Work?

Bas Simons: “At Schiphol it is important for us to be a reflection of society as an organization. Of course we see everyone passing by at our airport, all kinds of people from all over the world visit our work area. We therefore find it only logical that we want to be an inclusive employer.”

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“At the airport itself, we have set up everything in such a way that travelers with a physical disability can get from A to B as best as possible, but we want to arrange that just as well within our company.”

“We have now conducted a mentor program several times in which an employee of Schiphol is linked as a mentor to a young person via Emma at Work. In this way, these young people can see how things work in the business world, with the mentor working on a concrete question from the young person for six months.”

“But for us as an organization it is also really instructive. You can see through the mentoring program that within our company the importance of giving young people with a physical condition a chance is really coming to life.”

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And does a job always roll out in such a collaboration between companies and Emma at Work?

Van Hilten: “That would of course be great, but it is not necessarily our ambition. We are primarily concerned with teaching a certain thought process and learning skills such as pitching yourself. That is something that will serve you for the rest of your life.” Simons: “I remember, for example, a young lady who worked temporarily in our HR department after our first mentorship. She was incredibly talented but very insecure. When she started working with us, she really blossomed and that confidence eventually took her to another job. I see Emma at Work as a springboard for young people with a physical disadvantage.”

Van Hilten That would of course be great but it is

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Van Hilten: “Young people who start working through us are sometimes lumped together with people with an intellectual disability, but that is unjustified. These young people work independently, without long supervision. We help them on their way and then they can show themselves what they are worth.For many of us that comes naturally, but for many others it is not. Emma at Work brings equality of opportunity on the labor market a little bit closer.”

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Author: Jobly