Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

21st September, 2015: Big Society team returns to Malaysia

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This week, two members of the team, Keith Bates and Molly Mattingly from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, are back in Malaysia to deliver training on employment, job coaching, enterprise & self-employment.

Here Keith talks about their first day of workshops.

Quality and value 

We know how to support people with learning disabilities into work. We know what works; we have decades of academic, practical and anecdotal evidence for this. Yet we also know that not all services commissioned in the UK follow good practice guidelines. Quality is important, in order to get good outcomes, we need good inputs. This was one of the key messages delivered at a workshop today as part of the Big Society Research programme.


Following a request to deliver further exchanges in Malaysia to build on the initial visit made in March 2015, the team, consisting of Keith Bates and Molly Mattingly, both voluntary sector partners from our Progrmmme today led a workshop exploring the development of quality approaches and the professionalization of Job Coaching


Molly and Keith worked with 23 senior Job Coach Trainers representing the major government departments, NGOs and private businesses to explore what needed in place they need to build a quality framework for job coaches in Malaysia.

After an introduction to the employment situation for people with learning disabilities, in the UK, Keith reminded participants of the precarious situation people found themselves in across the UK, dealing with stubbornly low rates of employment and challenging cuts yet with some promising innovations that were generating positive outcomes for some.

The session touched upon Social Role Valorisation and the importance of valued roles in society for people with disabilities and the vital role employment played in this. The relevance of providing evidence based approaches to supporting people into work was emphasised throughout the day with participants exploring a range of quality measurement tools and standards available to the supported employment sector form the UK, US and Europe.

Participants were invited to build on the significant local work done to date and to start developing and designing the beginnings of a service framework using model coherency. The Job Coach Trainers worked together and explored how they should build a sustainable model of supported employment and to enhance job coaching as a profession across Malaysia.

Clearly it is neither possible nor desirable to build a quality framework in a day, but foundations have been laid from which to grow and will undoubtedly further the object of getting more people with learning disabilities into work. Representatives from the Departments of Welfare, Labour, Education and Skills have agreed to work closely together to develop a framework for Quality in Job Coaching Support.

A challenge was delivered to the job coaches by the Department of Welfare that reminded the workshop that anyone can work if given the right support. This was followed with a promise that the department will develop National Occupational Standards in the New Year with further workshops agreed in pursuance of this aim.

We look forward to further developments



Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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