Project management for Taicang Inclusion Factory

VIRTUARCH is very happy to support the Taicang Inclusion Factory by providing project management services for its new working space. As part of VIRTUARCH’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, VIRTUARCH is happy to support Taicang Inclusion Factory, a unique initiative  integrating people with intellectual disabilities into an industrial working environment in which they produce component parts for industrial customers, just as any other workers would do. We talked to Thilo Koeppe, Chairman of the Taicang Inclusion Factory about this program and the plans for the future.

Thilo Koeppe: In 2015, the Taicang Inclusion Factory was established by the Taicang Roundtable in Taicang (a conglomerate of foreign invested SMEs) strongly supported by the Taicang government. It is the first and so far the only industrial workshop in China which gives meaningful employment and training to individuals with intellectual challenges under real market conditions. Most of our workers experience for the first time in their lives how it feels to be an accepted and valuable member of the society. At the Inclusion Factory, we strongly believe that people with intellectual challenges have the desire to be and are capable of being fully included into an industrial working environment and consequently into our society. We can see this every day.

Thilo Koeppe: Currently, 25 challenged individuals have been fully employed. The Taicang Inclusion Factory is an illuminating example for the impact the business community could have on its social environment, I would say.

Thilo Koeppe: Our mission is to facilitate the reintegration of our workers into society to the greatest extent possible. We want them to be as independent as possible and help them to be able to live on their own. With the Taicang Inclusion Factory we want to prove that people with intellectual challenges can perform demanding tasks while contributing to the country’s economic development.

Thilo Koeppe: Our vision is to multiply the concept China-wide to lead the social change in the Chinese society. We actually started this by training other companies and help them to include intellectually challenged people into their working processes. Today, we see ourselves as inclusion consultants offering our own experience, methods and tools that make our approach workable in other factories as well. We established an Inclusion Advisory Service. One good example for this is Flex, a Fortune 500 global electronics manufacturer. In their Zhuhai site with nearly 30.000 employees, Flex was already employing hearing-impaired workers. In 2018, they decided to focus on intellectually challenged people, to be even more inclusive. Flex asked us for support and we had the opportunity to help the company to set up processes that made inclusion on this level possible. Currently 10 intellectually challenged people work in Flex mechanical Inclusion Factory. This is a first, but a very important step, and we are very proud of it.

Thilo Koeppe: As far as we understand, there are more than 6 Million people with intellectual challenges in China. With this in mind, we wish that more companies will think about including them into their work environment. By doing this, they would prove, that these people can be independent, valuable and accepted members of the society, everywhere in China. That is something we dream of.

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