Projects Current Page Projects


Employment Biographies Following Semi-Skilled Training Funded by Invalidity Insurance

Background and aims

Employment pathways and employment status of persons taking their first vocational training under IVG (in particular training for semi-skilled work funded by invalidity insurance and Practical Training PrA)

There has been little research to date into the subjective significance of vocational training for people with learning difficulties or impaired performance. The perspective of those immediately concerned is therefore usually absent, not only in socio-political debate, but also in expert exchange on training, employment and the structural conditions for integration. The present project examines employment biographies of people with a learning disability or impaired performance, placing the focus on those who have completed their first vocational training (a semi-skilled scheme funded by invalidity insurance or a practical training provided by INSOS) and persons from their occupational and employment context. Their employment pathway is observed from a longitudinal perspective. The findings will permit the formulation of measures and recommendations at individual, institutional and structural level in relation, for example, to the conceptual design of training schemes, the transition to the first or second employment market, and workplace design. This will aid the creation or development of working conditions, facilitating the participation of people with disabilities in the life of society and in gainful employment (cf. Disability Act Art. 1).


This is a qualitative approach: a guideline interview is conducted with subjects who have completed their initial vocational training and with a person drawn from their occupational context. The target group consists of anyone in Switzerland who acquired an IV-Anlehre or PrA (INSOS) qualification between 1995 and 2010. To ensure a variety of work and life situations, the goal is to conduct about 40-50 interviews (20-25 interviews with those who have completed initial training, 20-25 interviews with people from their work environment). Potential interviewees are to be identified through institutions affiliated to INSOS.


A key finding – based on a qualitative interview conducted with former trainees and people from their work environment – is that self-determination and support do not necessarily rule each other out. A pivotal aim of any inclusive approach to disability is that people with impairments should be able to participate in the world of work on a self-determined basis. However, participation founded on self-determination does not mean dispensing with all support. Although self-determination assumes that individuals are active and able to stand up for their own decisions, this by no means implies that they must be able to manage everything in life without support.

One selected theme illustrates this well. Many interviewees have tried to gain a foothold in the primary labour market. This challenging aspiration poses greater demands on them and is more likely to be successful if the following conditions are met:

  • positive personal characteristics (efficient, even-tempered, persistent, able to communicate)
  • a supportive workplace environment (managers, colleagues)
  • adjustments at the workplace and to job requirements
  • support from a job coach and/or assistant

If support is to be geared to self-determination as a goal, there must be radical changes in the way support is understood. Subjects must not be treated as dependents or instructed by others. Only when support is understood as a service provided through dialogue and partnership can the wishes and needs of interviewees be perceived and taken into account. This is the only way to resolve the apparent paradox between self-determination and support, as support is then understood as help towards self-determination.



Project Management

  • Ehemaliger Leiter Forschung und Entwicklung

  • Dozentin

Project team

Financial support


Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe