Funding and administration: aspiring to strike a better balance between economic and social interests
Passwerk is funded through a so-called PSP funding scheme (profit – social profit sector). The largest portion of resources is provided by the profit sector, although some 5 to 10 percent of the overall funding is contributed by organisations operating in the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as the driving forces behind the company. Even though the largest portion of the funding comes from the profit sector, we have been able to strike an equitable balance of power between profit and social profit through the organisational form chosen (CVBA met sociaal oogmerk, or a Cooperative Company with Limited Liability with a social purpose) as laid down in the articles of association.
Inclusion: social participation through work is particularly important for people to take an active and full part in society
Insofar as possible and feasible, we endeavour to see the Passwerk employees perform their duties on-site at the end customer’s premises. This approach serves to put into practice so-called supported employment within a normal business environment, as something that will continue to remain a necessity for the target group.
Innovative and transplantable concept: focus on qualities triggers positive dynamic
Passwerk sets out from the qualities that are specific to the target group (an ASD in this case) as the starting point to launch a search for (labour) shortages on the market. The Passwerk duties and responsibilities are in keeping with the qualities, competences and strengths of the target group as widely as possible. The limitations of people with an ASD are catered by an expert professional supervisory staff. This concept can also be used to serve other capacity shortages on the market and for different target groups.
Sensitisation and diversity: diversity brings economic as well as social added value
Passwerk emphatically asserts itself as a software testing organisation with employees who have an ASD. This also enables us to raise awareness among the end customer’s staff and to support them in the way they collaborate with the Passworkers. By clearly communicating about ASD, we are able to effect greater understanding for and genuine collaboration with people with an ASD. All of which helps to generate a more positive image of the talents of people with an ASD. This may result in an altered view of the added value people with different talents (can) effectively bring to the economic circuit. The presence of Passwerk employees in a company makes the customer’s staff acutely aware of the complementarity brought about by diversity on the company floor.
Integrated approach: 1+1=3
The process from the time of application, across the training process all the way up to and including actual employment becomes a single logically integrated whole whereby a natural transition is effected from GOB (Specialist Opleidings-, Begeleidings- en Bemiddelingsdienst) (Training, Coaching and Mediation Service Specialist (TCMS)) towards a job in the regular economic circuit. Further to a three-week specialist functional assessment – which follows on from an in-depth intake by GTB/VDAB, Passwerk and other stakeholders – the individual with an autism spectrum disorder is trained by Passwerk to meet the specific job requirements and skills, guided by expert job coaches.
Spin-offs: social added value in different areas
The collaboration between various businesses and social-profit organisations, operating in the field of autism spectrum disorders, is certain to result in spin-offs. Here too, the diversity in vision and approach will lead to complementarity and enhanced professionalism. This may spawn developed competences, which in turn can be taken to the economic market in one form or another. The most obvious spin-offs are situated in the areas of assessment, coaching, stress management, value-driven entrepreneurship and human resources management. Although it is easy to envisage other activities being devised that are geared towards the talents of people with a work disability.
Unique and feasible: from a simple idea to a professional concept and result
Passwerk is unique but was by no means a leap into the void! Three years before Passwerk was set up, Specialisterne (www.specialisterne.dk) was established in Denmark, which had managed to demonstrate that in an ICT environment people with an ASD who are normally gifted can bring a distinct and profitable added value to the regular economic circuit. After just one year in operation, Passwerk broke even, even though the added value for society at large is much greater still. It is not unthinkable that the added value of the concept could be implemented beyond Flanders. The most obvious regions in this respect would be The Netherlands and Wallonia. A European, and in due course possibly, global collaboration between schemes of a similar nature could well be envisaged to offer new prospects for the future to the fairly sizeable population of people with an autism spectrum disorder, and potentially serve as a value-enhancing economic model for collaboration in the long run.
A bespoke organisation: customised work as added value, not as a cost
Where some businesses may be included to walk the path of least resistance, Passwerk unreservedly goes for customised work. Amongst other things, this translates in the area of the practical location of Passwerk and customers (accessible by public transport), the training-based approach (adapted to suit the pace of the target group), the service package (adapted in consideration of the talents of the target group), consultation and communication (adapted to the communication skills and needs in place) and the work environment (causing as little stress as possible).
Convergence market: the best of both worlds
The above clearly shows that Passwerk operates in the convergence market. What this means is that Passwerk combines the economic dimension with the social dimension, offering this combination as an element of considerable added value to its customers. This new market approach sees Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) integrated as part of the business, and not as a standalone element or area of focus and investment that is separate from the company. Within CSR, Passwerk brings an innovative concept. Passwerk operates as an economic player with a distinctly social profile. The starting point is rooted in the concrete needs of the customer and the aim goes well beyond the optimisation of profits.