Keeping up with our rapidly changing world can be a challenge at the best of times. Much of life today is driven by technology, yet we’re not all equally adept at making things work for us. Every person is unique, and our individual abilities shouldn’t get in the way of finding jobs we enjoy. Believing that everyone deserves a place in the labour market, now and into the future, Amfors – the social employment agency of Amersfoort – has launched the Amfors Inclusive Fieldlab.
Here, the team and its 900+ employees explore technological and social innovations that make work more accessible to everyone. People with a distance to the labour market are supported in their development through smart solutions that help them communicate better, break down complex processes into manageable steps, support them in their daily tasks, and generally improve the way they work.
Many of the smart solutions that are developed, tested, and implemented in the Inclusive Fieldlab’s practical environment are existing innovations. And although their inventors might not initially have had differently abled employees in mind, Amfors Inclusive Fieldlab does an outstanding job when it comes to proving the added value of these applications in creating a more inclusive society.
Award Winning Technology
“We want to introduce our people to technology,” says project leader Judith Jansen. “On the one hand to ensure they are part of our changing society, and on the other hand to ensure they get to develop themselves and stand a better chance in the labour market. Technology isn’t the solution, it’s a means and an opportunity.”
Assembling a state-of-the-art LED streetlight becomes easy as one-two-three with the Smart Beamer, for example. Combining multiple technologies, the Smart Beamer projects assembly instructions above the workbench. By breaking down instructions into bitesize pieces it helps people with cognitive disabilities work autonomously, make less mistakes and learn new skills. No wonder it won €10.000, – at the Dutch Design Week in 2017!
Similarly, Laevo’s Exoskeletons have proven to be invaluable for people who work jobs that involve a lot of bending and lifting. The wearable chest and back support devices help reduce strain on the body and help prevent back injuries. From horticulturalists to carers, there are infinite industries in which employees have to perform strenuous tasks. Amfors Inclusive Fieldlab has introduced the exoskeleton in various workplaces, including their metalworking company Metafors, to great success.
AR glasses, 3D printers, translation tools; the creative ways in which Amfors allows people with a distance to the labour market to flourish. By teaching people to work autonomously they become more interesting for employers. The opportunities created here are as varied as the people who work there. And the knowledge gained in this practical environment is shared with companies and scientists for continuous improvement and next-level innovations.
“People who work here have a gap to the regular labour market, and when they leave here, we want that gap to be smaller. We believe these technological innovations can help bridge that gap,” concludes Paul Naus, Unit Manager Work Support.