Zaandam, the Netherlands – Jetta Klijnsma, the Dutch State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment, today visited an Albert Heijn store to wrap up a series of visits to companies employing people whose capacity to work is challenged in one way or another.
Klijnsma was investigating how companies are preparing for the imminent legal changes regarding the employment of the disabled to be introduced by the Participation Act, expected to come into force on 1 January 2015. Albert Heijn is a key employer of disabled young people – with over 600 on its payroll now, it aims to employ 2,000 by 2016 at the very latest.
Today, Albert Heijn is one of the largest employers of young disabled people in the country, and is looking to do more. At Albert Heijn, people with a disability do regular work in the stores, but adjusted to what they’re capable of doing. Experience shows that these youngsters are highly motivated and loyal, make a positive contribution to the general mood in the stores and help pull teams closer together. The customer response is typically also very positive. Albert Heijn today told Klijnsma of its ambition to provide work to 2,000 such young people, clearly setting the standard for other employers, or so the State Secretary felt.
Prospects for a future
At her visit to the store, Jetta Klijnsma was given a tour to see the work the young disabled do on the shop-floor and the advantages of such placements. She talked to young people already employed in this way to get a good idea of the kind of work they’re able to do, with Albert Heijn explaining its inclusion policies and ambitions. Albert Heijn is looking to provide opportunities within the company´s existing structure and does not create any special positions for this group. This particular approach offers prospects for them to find work elsewhere, a key condition being, of course, that other companies will also create employment for the young disabled.
The State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment proved very pleased with Albert Heijn’s ambitions, observing that: "Everyone should be able to participate in the workforce, young and old, disabled or not. I think it’s wonderful that Albert Heijn intends to increase the number of young disabled it employs from over 600 to 2,000 in 2016, and really hope many companies will follow its excellent example."