In our research looking at social enterprise as a conduit for open employment, there was a train of thought backed by overseas experience that sheltered workshops would appropriate this title to dress up their enclave settings into something more politically and socially acceptable. I’ve just looked through a social enterprise leaders list of social enterprises and I’m dismayed by the number of sheltered workshops or ADE’s as we call them now in Australia that are rapidly rebadging themselves as social enterprises.
The majority of these organisations fail to provide open employment opportunities and worst of all fail to provide award based wages, rather they pay piece work rates that can equate to only a few dollars per hour for there workers, although calling staff workers in these settings in demonstrably wrong, given that they are really government subsidised clients.
Until this new type of sheltered workshop adopt open employment pathways and career planning and support, then they will only ever be capture and keep employment settings that fail to deliver on true independence, social inclusion and social cohesion. So much for self determination!