Supported Employment in Kazakhstan

Staff at the Training Kafe

By Warren Heggarty

In Kazakhstan, only three per cent of people with a disability are engaged in employment. People with disabilities, including serious mental health issues, tend to live in segregated institutions. This is not an ideal environment for a supported employment program, but this didn’t stop the founders of the Training Café in Almaty. 

The Training Café opened in 2015 with 40 employees, people with both physical and psychosocial disabilities. A year later, two employees had left the institution to live in the community. Another hopes to get open employment, move in with his girlfriend and start a family. 

One of the biggest obstacles the founders had to face was trying to convince the people who ran the institutions that it was a good idea to equip their residents (or patients as they are called) with the skills to live and work in the community. According to Ainur Shakenova, a local disability rights advocate, the Training Café has been a positive step towards social inclusion for Kazakhstan’s 10,000 residents of institutions. (Shakenova, 2016)

So things are getting off the ground in Kazakhstan, but what is the situation in other parts of the globe. 

Meanwhile, in Africa…

What would happen if companies were actually required by law to give jobs to people with disabilities? 

In South Africa, according to an article in Africa Business, they actually have a QUOTA requiring that 2% of employees in certain companies have a disability. This is quite modest because the actual number of people with a disability is 7.6% of the population. To make matters worse, businesses often do not comply. A similar situation exists in Kenya and Nigeria. (Toesland, 2017)

Just like in Australia, there are two stumbling blocks which are relatively easy to surmount. 

Firstly employers are often under the mistaken impression that it will cost them and secondly the employers  lack the knowledge and confidence to be able to put affirmative action policies into practice. (Toesland, 2017) 

This is a major reason why it is a good idea to have forums where employers and potential employees with disabilities can meet and greet and get to know each other. 


Shakenova, A. (2016, April 26). Kazachstans Training Cafe serves up inclusion. Retrieved from Open Society Foundations:

Toesland, F. (2017, February 20). Embracing the disabled workforce in Africa. Retrieved from African Business Magazine:

Thanks to Janet Meagher AM for suggesting this.

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