A Leonardo da Vinci Project
European Commission The Leonardo da Vinci Programme
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Target group: People with disabilities who are familiar with computers and have technical capabilities and/or orientation;

Target sector: Engineering drafting, detailing and graphics;

Needs: Due to booming technology and IT phenomena, distant learning and e-employment are growing in an exponential manner. This field requires optimum production rate, which is combination of time and cost. The parameter is being the level of depth of the output detail. Considering the current globalisation and market conditions and resulting competition in almost all different fields of service sectors; drafting, detailing and graphics service sectors are also based on personal time, knowledge and effort. Another most Important criterion of these fields is that the worker is not necessarily be moved to job site or employee's premises. Hence, these fields are very well suitable for "home based employment". However, although disabled people with mobility limitation are the most suitable part of the population* which confirms to this new trend from the most aspects while forming more than 10% of European population, there is not a real development targeting this group in this new field of training and employment. According to research article written by Didier Dupré and Antti Karjalainen, "Employment of Disabled People In Europe in 2002" which was published in Eurostat of European Commission in November 2003 (http://epp.eurostat.cec.eu.int/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-NK-03-026/EN/KS-NK-03-026-EN.PDF), 43.7% of non-working persons with disabilities and facing work restrictions consider that they would need some form of assistance to work. The results of this research were stressed in the 'Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee' dated 30.04.2004 and No. 2004/C 110/08 (http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2004/c_110/c_11020040430en00260029.pdf), and in the Articles of 2.4, 2.5 and 3.4 it is stated that the projects promoting the employability of disabled people are encouraged by the EESC.

Hence, the philosopy of this project is the innovation and verification of employment channels where someone can talk about "an advantage of being disabled in this unique virtual business channel(s)".
Furthermore, it is also stated that even it looks that the unemployment rate among the disabled is not higher than that for the non-disabled, this is possibly because of the 'discouraged worker' effect, which means many disabled persons know or believe that they are very unlikely to get a job, so that they do not even attempt to find one and are therefore classified as inactive although they have a work potential. Furthermore, the Article 12/iii of Council Resolution 175/01of 15 July 2003 on promoting the employment and social integration of people with disabilities - (http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/news/2003/oct/resolution150703en.pdf), encourages efforts improving integration and participation at all levels of training systems for increasing the employability of disabled people.

Project results: This integrated training and employment model will improve the employability of disabled people and will also be a model for other similar activity fields. It will also improve the output quality in the sector by means of increasing the meeting opportunities of supply and demand and resulting increase in competition.

Project aims: This project aims to develop a two-stage training program for computer oriented disabled people on drafting, detailing and graphics, and establish an e-platform which will serve those people to work as a freelance, self-employed or entrepreneur from their home based offices (general name: "virtual assistants"). This two-stage training will cover:

  1. Training on "how to become a virtual assistant", that is learning the general principles of home office business and how to work as self-employed (or as "virtual assistants") in general,
  2. Training on specific service fields:

    a/ Drafting,

    b/ Detailing,

    c/ Graphics.

The idea behind this future efforts is basically to improve the skills and competences of computer and technical oriented disabled people, to train the target individual to produce better and competitive outputs in drafting, detailing and graphics fields which covers almost 30% of design and engineering activities in architectural, civil, mechanical and electrical fields of engineering design projects, which are the most vital and essential parts of any engineering design activity.

As this overall activity requires continuous training in both e-environment being the gateway to the e-employment, computer hardware and software as well as related technical disciplines, the quality of output is directly a function of continuous vocational training which is a very significant and extremely important but implicitly integrated part of the project. This vital part will be accessed via the e-employment Web site and it will refresh itself by means of continuing inputs from users, that are "disabled virtual assistants". This unique structure of "integrated training and employment" which will renew and improve itself and further continuously serving both vocational training and employment of disabled people in these few specific activity fields will be a new e-learning model and guidance for other similar fields.

First of all, the aspects of being "disabled" in this fields of activities will be performed and identified. This will involve the analysis of market conditions, analytical analysis of cost, profit, competitive range at the European level as well as sector based periodical analysis over years. Hence, the possible optimum scenario (optimal) will be tried to be generated in the content of this project for disabled people who are suitable to work as a "virtual assistant" in the scope fields; computer aided drafting, detailing and graphics.

Furthermore, both training models will also be optimised for target group who are disabled people with low mobility, and possible outputs will be examined in early stages of the project for having satisfactory and qualified feedback for further corrective efforts throughout the project life and before generation of final product.

Finally, it will also be proven that willing to learning, patience, concentration and committing to continuous learning are the most important factors in e-learning and e-employment, and, all these capabilities do exist in most of the disabled people who are thirsty but desperate in employment in such technical fields as it was explicitly stated in the statistical survey results of Eurostat which was briefly mentioned in part C1. Virtual employers will then start meeting with those disabled virtual assistants as they will surely consider quality, price, time and the last but the most important factor; reliability. So, the project aims to attract employers not by using the fact that the virtual assistants are disabled, but the employers will be attracted by the fact that these people can produce a competitive outputs in the market.

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