Douglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrie.

The evolution of national systems of vocational reeducation for disabled soldiers and sailors online

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1917)", but as you will realize, this number will be greatly increased with the
return of the real civilian population. The men who have returned and been
discharged up to the present will no doubt have been drawn from the old
army. * * * The form of training essential in these cases is not particu-
larly educational in the strict sense but tends to be intensive, as it is essential
that the discharged men should become self-supporting as quickly as possible,
and the ordinary ideals of education do not apply in these cases.


The joint committees of both Yorkshire and Lancashire took the
ground, in their recommendations, that the ministry of pensions
should pay the cost of training disabled soldiers and sailors in tech-
nical schools. The former committee recommended "that the pensions
^ministry should bear the cost of training disabled men by making
adequate grants on the basis of a flat rate for all localities, varying
with the nature of the instruction given."

The Lancashire committee passed the following resolution :

That it be represented to the ministry of pensions that it is most essential
that education authorities should be at once assured that, if the maximum rate
that may be fixed should be shown to be insufficient to meet the increased actual
expenditure incurred, the balance shall be paid by the ministry of pensions on
the recommendation of the advisory committee.

Any uncertainty on this score was dispelled by a letter from the
ministry of pensions which inclosed a copy of the new instructions


for treatment and training which dealt with this question. The letter
read :

From schedule 3 of these instructions it will be seen that a rate of 7s. 6d.
per head per week has been fixed as the amount which should normally be
regarded as adequate to cover the training given, but in any event the cost
should not exceed the additional expenditure incurred, exclusive of all standing
charges in respect of the institution. In exceptional circumstances the amount
of 7s. 6d. per head per week may be exceeded with the sanction of the minister,
but it will be necessary in any case to show that the charge made, whatever it is,
does not more than cover the additional expenditure incurred.

The cost to the ministry of pensions for training a disabled soldier
or sailor in a technical school is, therefore, the fees of the school,
which are not ordinarily to exceed 7s. 6d. per week, although it is
evident that in some cases as high as 10s. are sometimes paid; to
this must be added the difference between the man's regular pension
and his total disability pension of 27s. 6d. per week, plus a pension
to his wife during the period of his absence from home and a bonus
of 5s. a week during training. For example, should a man be
awarded a permanent pension for 50 per cent disability it would
amount to one-half his total disability pension, or 13s. 9d., besides
certain allowances to any children he might have under the age of
16. During his period of training he would get his full disability
pension of 27s. 6d., and a bonus of 5s. a week, his wife would get her
" widow's pension " of 13s. 9d., and fees amounting ordinarily to
7s. 6d. would be paid to the institution training him. Out of this
gross sum of 40s. per week in excess of his regular " minimum pen-
sion " the state would deduct 7s. per week for the man's maintenance.
This amount might be further increased by the scheme for " alterna-
tive pensions " if the man previous to his enlistment had been receiv-
ing a wage in excess of this gross amount plus any children's allow-


The Government found it necessary to provide for the training
of a large number of skilled workers in munition factories. By an
arrangement with the minister of munitions a considerable number
of technical schools undertook the training of men and women for
this work. Where disabled men gave promise of training as readily
as normal men, they were received as candidates for training.

The Technical Institute of Loughborough writes that crippled
soldiers are examined upon entry and placed in training in the par-
ticular kind of work for which they are physically and mentally fit.
No speciitl classes are arranged for them, arid they are instructed at
the side of each machine or bench. Instruction is given in shell
turning, capstan tool setting, fitting, aero-engine testing, gauge


making, foundry work, smith's work, oxyacetylene welding, and pat-
tern making. Each candidate must agree to the following con-
ditions :

1. I agree to attend for training In any factory, Institution, or training center
which may be named by the ministry of munitions, for a period to be determined
by the ministry of munitions.

2. I agree to accept payment, while undergoing training, of maintenance
allowance at a rate not exceeding 9d. per hour.

3. I agree to abide by any decision of the ministry with regard to the termi-
nation of my training on account of unsatisfactory behavior Or Incapacity.

4. I agree, on being released from my course of training, to accept employ-
ment where and when directed by the ministry of munitions, In consideration
of my free training and maintenance allowance.

The principal of the Loughborough Technical Institute writes that
the demand for labor has been such that they have had no difficulty
in placing all the men trained in munition factories.

The Aston Technical School has been engaged in similar work.
They made no special effort to secure disabled men, but in one way
and another 74 wounded soldiers and 80 discharged through disease
had come to them for training. They had placed 24 wounded sol-
diers as follows:

Gauge makers >_ 6

Tool setters 6

Tool turners 2

Tool hardener 1

Viewers 4

Molders ,._ 2

Millers 2

Core maker r l

Of the discharged soldiers 36 had been placed as follows:

Capstan operators 2

Qauge makers 3

Aero erector 1

Aero assembler ^. 1

Sheet-metal worker 1

Press worker 1

Molder 1

Shell turner 1

Molders 8

Core makers-, 3

Tool setters 4

Toolmaker 1

Tool turners 7

Fitters 8

Viewers 5

The length of the course varies from one to six weeks for viewing,
and from three to four months for gauge making. Tool turners,
tool setters, molders, millers, and grinders can usually be trained in
from four to five weeks. No distinction is made between discharged
soldiers and ordinary trainees. Both receive the same maintenance
allowance of £2 per week for a 50-hour training week.

No difficulty has been experienced in placing trained men with
munitions firms. The principal writes :

As a rule the men who are Intelligent and industrious do exceedingly well,
and I have In my possession testimonials from various firms expressing satis-
faction and appreciation of the work the trained men are doing for them. It Is
quite possible that the less-skilled men may be thrown out of work when the
war Is over, but the more highly skilled men will retain their places.


The conditions attending the training of men as workers in muni-
tion factories, therefore, are different from those in ordinary train-
ing in technical schools. There are also different regulations for
training in a private workshop or factory. Should the local com-
mittee decide that it would be advantageous to train a disabled man
in a workshop it must first consult the local technical committee, com-
posed of representatives of the organizations of employers and work
people in the particular industry, before submitting a scheme to the
ministry of pensions. It must satisfy itself that the employer will
give the trainee proper instruction and that there are good prospects
of the man securing permanent employment at a fair wage, consider-
ing the man's capacity and the prevailing wages in that industry.
An employer must not take men for the ostensible purpose of train-
ing, but really to supply a temporary shortage of labor. The man
must be given such a knowledge of and training in the processes of
the industry as will give reasonable assurances of his securing per-
manent employment when his period of training is over.

No fees are to be paid an employer for training a disabled man and
he is expected to pay the man such wages as will represent the net
value, if any, of the man's work to him. Any wages paid are de-
ducted from the amount credited to a man for his training. If a
man is not taking full advantage of his opportunities his training
may be discontinued.


The question of wages for a man whose industrial efficiency is less
than 100 per cent because of a physical handicap is a difficult one in
the fact of the attitude of labor toward a minimum wage standard.
The fact that a disabled soldier or sailor is receiving a pension, does
not simplify the matter. Of course the ideal in vocational reeduca-
tion is to so develop and direct a man's residual powers as to make
him 100 per cent efficient in the particular job for which he is trained.
But this ideal can not always be attained. There will be men incapa-
ble of doing a full job whose wages must be settled upon an equitable
basis. The ministry of labor has set up in many of the principal in-
dustrial centers advisory wages boards to give advice in this matter.
A board is made up of a permanent chairman appointed by the min-
istry of labor, representatives of employers and of labor together
with not more than three members of the local war pensions com-
mittee, who have no vote. The advice of this board may be sought by
any employer or workman or the secretary of a local committee in re-
gard to the wages any individual should receive in a particular occu-
pation. The board is instructed to take into consideration the man's


physical capacity and the current rate of wages for that industry and
locality, but it is not to take account of the fact that the man is en-
titled to a pension. Whether or not it can remain entirely unin-
fluenced by this fact may be an interesting speculation.

The attitude of the Labor Party toward the training of disabled
men is defined by G. J. Wardle, M. P., executive chairman of the
Labor Party in 1916. He says:

Subject to there being no diminution in standard of living, or possibility of
the disabled man being used to defeat the legitimate obpects which the trades-
unions have in view, the trades unions are not only sympathetic but desire to
assist the disabled in every possible way to secure employment on remunerative
work. 8 "


After a man has been trained he must be placed in industry. If
he has been trained in a workshop, it has been with the expectation
that he would be given regular employment in that shop. Some of
the technical institutions make an effort to find employment for their
trainees. Under present industrial conditions resulting from the war
this has not been a difficult task. Conditions will be far different
when the war is over and demobilization begins. Many of the disr
charged men will expect to return to their former occupations, and
the untrained cripples will face a difficult situation. Even the trained
man with a handicap will find that the stress of economic pressure
will put a heavy strain upon the patriotic motives of employers.
That the employers are now responding to the appeal to give the
disabled man a chance is shown by the fact that between May, 1915,
and December, 1916, they stipulated in 24,635 cases that preference
should be given to disabled soldiers and sailors. But past experience
should warn against placing too much dependence upon a nation's
gratitude to its defenders when the keen competition of normal times

John Galsworthy's forecast of the after-war lot of the untrained
cripple is not very rosy. He writes:

A few years hence, when people have begun to hate the memory of a war
which will have made the struggle for existence harder, the universal feeling
toward the maimed soldier will become: "Well, he's got his pension; that
ought to be enough. Besides he had his opportunity to get training for special
employments and did not take it. Life's much too hard nowadays for senti-
ment ; they must run their chances now with the rest of us in fair competition."*
We know what that means — the weakest go to the wall.™

Most excellent is the advice given in an address to disabled soldiers
about to be discharged from service regarding the necessity of taking
advantage of the training offered by the State :

=»G. J. Wardle: The Labor Paity and the disabled; Recalled to Life, London, i, 238.
40 War Pensions Gazette, London, 1917, 1, 21-22.




You must all remember in this connection that the condition of the labor
market to which you are returning just now is not what it is in normal times
or what it will be after the war. Therefore, although it is comparatively easy
to earn good wages in munition factories and other jobs just now, after the war
such posts will either not exist or will be given to more capable craftsmen. So
you should consider seriously whether, if you have an opportunity, it would
not be better to become a skilled workman, with the chance of a definite wage
after the war, than a munition worker now and unemployment staring you
in the face when the war is over."

By the labor-exchanges act of 1909 England established a national
system of employment bureaus throughout the United Kingdom. 42
With their branches and subagencies they cover the whole country
with a network of interrelated and coordinated employment bureaus.
They have facilities for finding work for a man either in his own
locality or elsewhere. The main dependence for finding employment
for the disabled man must be placed upon this State agency.


The national insurance act of 1911 contains provisions whereby
men serving in the naval and military forces of the Crown are, unless
they elect otherwise, insured as if they were in employment. A
deduction of l£d. is made from the soldiers' pay for insurance.
Men disabled in service will receive all the benefits to which they
are entitled under the insurance act in addition to any pension they
may be awarded except men granted the total-disablement pension,
who will have their rate of " sickness " benefit reduced by 5 shillings a
week and will not be entitled to "disablement" benefit under the
insurance act. Pensions in respect of a lower degree of incapacity
than 100 per cent do not affect the rate of benefit, but the man will
only be entitled to sickness benefit if he be incapable of working. 43


A question which troubled employers who desired to be patriotic
and give employment to disabled soldiers and sailors was the matter
of the rates they would have to pay. Employers hesitated to take
disabled men because of the higher premiums they thought would be
exacted for insuring such employees. The difficulty was happily
solved by the insurance companies' announcement that they would
insure disabled soldiers and sailors at the same rate as normal

« Bruno Lasker : The British system "of labor exchanges, Bull. 206, U. S. Dept. of Labor

^tflti sties

43 See National health insurance ; War Pensions Gazette, London, 1917, i, 64.

"■ War Pensions Gazette, London, 1917, 1, 81.



England now has a state system for the care of the disabled soldier
or sailor from the time he is wounded until he is again established
in civil life as a trained worker. The old laissez f aire policy of giving
the crippled ex-service man an artificial leg and an inadequate pen-
sion and then letting him limp through life unassisted save as he
was helped by charitable organizations has given place to a policy
which frankly avows the State's responsibility to see that he gets the
training he needs to enable him to earn a wage which, added to a
more liberal pension and allowances, will maintain a respectable
standard of living.

The system evolved grew out of the plans voluntary associations
formulated for supplementing Government pensions and allowances
through the activities of local committees of voluntary workers. The
local committee was retained as the arm by which a responsible min-
istry reaches the individual man in the home to which he returns
after his discharge from military service. The general composition
of the local committee was directed so that it would embrace repre-
sentatives of those organizations and interests which would naturally
be concerned with the social and industrial rehabilitation of the dis-
abled man. Rules were established for the guidance of the local
committees to secure uniformity and coordination in their plans. To
the local committee has now been added a paid secretary, who is re-
sponsible to the ministry of pensions. Although the salaries are
rather small it has been found possible to secure as secretaries men
of intelligence and ability. This latest development of the machinery
of the ministry of pensions gives promise of increased efficiency in
dealing with the needs of the disabled man as well as better coordina-

While the principal function of the local committee is to put into
execution the plans of the ministry of pensions for the full care of
the disabled man, including any needed treatment or training, at the
expense of the State, it may still at its discretion and from funds
voluntarily subscribed supplement the aid of the State in cases of
peculiar need and urgency. In this form the old sentiment that any
State system would lack elasticity and that there might be cases of
peculiar appeal to the principles of equity and humanity still lingers
as a kind of appendage to a thoroughgoing Government policy.

Where the local committee was found to be too restricted terri-
torially to make the most liberal provision for the training of a man
in a variety of trades and occupations the formation of joint com-
mittees over a considerable area has secured the syndicating of the
facilities for training. At the same time the interests of employers


and workpeople have been safeguarded by the appointment of trade
advisory committees by the joint action of the ministries of pensions
and labor. The adjustment of wages in any locality is facilitated by
advisory wages boards appointed by the ministry of labor.

England has now a system of care for her disabled soldiers and
sailors that is in keeping with the genius of her democratic institu-
tions and in which the widest latitude compatible with national unity
and coordination is given to each locality in dealing with the needs
of its citizen soldier who was loaned to the country for the defense
of the realm and who is received back into his home district and
again fitted into its social and industrial life at the expense of the



The system of care for war cripples in Italy is, in comparison with
tho other countries, still in its rudimentary stage. The first steps,
theoretic discussion and preliminary organization, are still occupy-
ing a great deal of attention and actual practical results are only just
beginning to be evident. This is very natural, because Italy, on
entrance into the war, had almost no facilities for such work,
had no artificial-limb factories, scarcely any cripple homes or system
of education for cripples, and very few social organizations com-
petent to undertake it. The whole system had to be built up from
the foundations, in contrast to Germany, where there was a complete
system ready to hand. In building up this new work there is a dis-
tinct effort to make it comprehensive and scientific, and careful study
of the methods of other countries, particularly France. The Italians
are their own most radical critics and are prepared to study the ex-
perience of other countries and to apply it as advantageously as

The history of work for war cripples in Italy was that of most
other countries. It began in scattered private efforts which were
later coordinated and brought more or less under Government con-
trol. The northern industrial Provinces were the first to move.
Even before Italy entered the war Lombardy had organized a com-
mittee, the Comitato Lombardo per i Soldati Mutilati in Guerra
(Lombard Committee for Soldiers Crippled in War), which worked
in connection with the Milan Instituto dei Rachitici (Institute for
Rachitics) to give orthopedic treatment and trade training to war
cripples. The work was done in close cooperation with the military
authorities. The institute was constituted a military reserve hos-
pital, its officers being given military rank; men were sent there
direct from the field hospitals and given their orthopedic treatment
under military discipline. After this, if they desired it and the com-
mittee found them suitable, they were transferred to a subsidiary
convalescent home for trade training, this also under military disci-
pline. The Government and the Lombard committee shared the ex-
pense of buildings and maintenance. The Government paid the com-

« Material for this chapter prepared by Ruth UnderhiU.



mittee 3.50 a day for each man's board, and the committee allowed
the men a small allowance.

The Milan school, which is still the largest and most scientific, be-
came the model for succeeding institutions. The other Provinces
were much slower in organizing,* and after the first 12 months of
Italy's participation in the war, the Milan school was still the only
one fairly started. 2 However, committees were formed little by little
on the pattern of the Milan committee until, in November, 1917, there
were altogether 24, accommodating about 20 per cent of all the war
cripples. 3 A few of these committees had schools actually in opera-
tion, others were merely planning them. All the schools were mod-
eled on that at Milan, where training was under military discipline,
but the choice of training was voluntary.

The committees in each Province worked together in a sort of loose
Affiliation, but a more definite coordination was felt to be necessary, so

e next step in organization was taken and there was formed a vol-
untary national association, the Federazione Nazionale dei Comitati
di Assistenza ai Militari Ciechi, Storpi, Mutilati (Federation of Com-
mittees for the Assistance of Blind, Lame, and Crippled Soldiers).

National Federation.

The function of the federation is mainly advisory, and the local
committees keep their independence and initiative. Their method of
organization varies in different Provinces. In Lombardy and Sicily,
for instances, there is only one committee for the whole Province,
and the work is concentrated in the largest city. In Tuscany and
Venetia there is a group of small committees, all working in co-
ordination and running several small separate schools.

The work of the federation is to coordinate and supervise the
work of the local committees and to keep them informed of new
developments in the work and to concern itself with legal measures
for the care of war cripples. It publishes a monthly magazine,
describing the work of local committees and discussing possible
new measures.

National Board.

From the very beginning of the work for war cripples in Italy
it was taken for granted that there must be Government regulation
of the schools and definite financial support. The framing of a suit-
able bill for this purpose occupied almost a year of discussion. One
bill was voted down by Parliament after long consideration, but

' Bollettlno della Federazione Nazionale dei Comitati di Assistenza ai Soldatl Ciechi,
Mutilati, Storpi, Rome, 1917, il, 105.

8 Bollettlno della Federazione Nazionale dei Comitati di Assistenza ai Soldati Ciechi,
Mutilati, Storpi. Borne, 1917, ii, 105.


finally, March 25, 1917, there was passed the law providing for the
Opera Nazionale per la Protezione ed Assistenza degli Invalidi della
Guerra (National Board for the Protection and Assistance of War
Invalids). 4 This law and the supplementary regulations published

Online LibraryDouglas C. (Douglas Crawford) McMurtrieThe evolution of national systems of vocational reeducation for disabled soldiers and sailors → online text (page 12 of 38)