Teleworking, also known as telecommuting or e-working, uses ICTs to replace work-related travel. Teleworking enables employees to work at home or at a local teleworking center, using communication tools, such as phones, faxes, modems, Internet teleconferencing, e-mail or Instant Messaging (IM).1
During the last decade, teleworking has proven to be a good working practice in developed countries. It is now becoming a way for persons with disabilities in developing countries to become employed, as well. Special tele-centers have already been established in several countries. These provide training opportunities to persons with disabilities in order for them to gain the necessary skills and capabilities to become employable. This enables persons with disabilities to become part of the national workforce, capable of contributing to the social, economic and political development of a country.2
The Training Centre in Teleworking for People with Disabilities is a joint initiative between the Tunisian government and French local authorities: the Regional Council of the Provence Alpes Cotes d’Azur and the General Council of the Bouches du Rhône. The objective of the project is to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society by providing access to traditionally unavailable job opportunities in teleworking careers. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the partners in 2001, with the first center opening its doors in 2006. These partners included:
Ministry of Social Affairs, Solidarity and Tunisians Abroad
Department of Employment and Vocational Integration of Youth through the National Agency for Employment and Self-Employment.
Ministry of Education and Training through the National Center for Training of Trainers and Training Engineering (CENAFFIF)
Association Sindbad Méditerranée Sans Handicap
Association Générale des Insuffisants Moteurs
General Council of Bouches du Rhone, France
Regional Council of Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur, France
The Association for Persons with Disability Help Engine "APAHM" Dunkirk, France.
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The center initially targeted persons with slight mobility impairments who had a certain level of education. In its second phase, the center was opened to persons with severe disabilities who required specific assistive technologies (ATs).
Of the first 15 students trained, 13 have found stable employment (a success rate of 86.66 per cent).3 The placement of the students was aided by the legal framework in Tunisia, which encourages the employment of persons with disabilities.
The Centre in Teleworking for People with Disabilities, in partnership with the National Agency for Employment and Independent Work, also developed a training certificate in ”Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs.” Participants identified a business opportunity and developed a business plan, which they presented and defended before potential investors. After initial training was provided by the Centre, the participants started their project and received ongoing training and support from the Centre.
This scheme targeted 18 persons with disabilities seeking employment. They received 20 days’ training in February 2010. During the training, participants spoke with a range of business people, such as a financial advisor and a person from a micro-financing organization, all of whom provided advice on their projects. Participants were given small grants on completion of their training (TND 80/150 for non-graduates/graduates of higher education). Once the participants secured funding for, and launched their projects they received an additional 12-month scholarship and were provided with support and training in both managerial and technical skills.