Our StorySteps with Theera is the first ever vocational centre for people with learning differences in Thailand. Here's how our movement started.
There are more than 2 million people with disabilities living in Thailand. They have as much talent, skill and value to add to the workplace as anyone else. But less than two percent of them have had vocational training and less than 25 percent of them are employed.
Our mission to transform this situation began in 2016 with Max Simpson, an inclusion specialist, and Uang Hokrakitya, a diplomat turned pastry chef. United by a passion to ensure everyone – regardless of their differences – is able to access a dignified, fulfilling career, they set up Steps With Theera, a vocational training centre with a coffee shop attached where trainees could serve and apply their new-found work skills.
In just three years Steps has grown from four trainees to 30, with 100 percent of our graduates in paid employment. We now have three coffee shops, two franchises, and two vocational centres in Bangkok and Phuket. And just to keep ourselves really busy we also employ a team of therapists who offer support to young people in the wider community, and who offer training to schools to help them support students with learning differences.
Our professionalism and experience has won us the SENIA Honorary Advocacy Award (twice!) and have been featured multiple times in the media.
The next three years promise to be just as busy. The Steps extended family is growing as more people and businesses reach out, many willing to offer employment opportunities to the trainees once they have completed the programme.
For Steps, this is the ultimate aim; providing fulfilling employment which enables people with learning differences to be independent and contribute to their community.