On Friday 9 October, Inclusion Europe organised the fourth online event as part of the project “My Talents. For Diversity”. As the European Commission is currently drafting the next Disability Strategy, we wanted to talk to members of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and Disabled People’s Organisations about how employment should be tackled in the 2020-2030 Disability Strategy.
- Katarina Ivanković-Knežević – Director for Social Affairs and Inclusion in the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission;
- Milan Brglez – Member of the European Parliament (S&D, Slovenia), member of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament;
- Haydn Hammersley – Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum (EDF);
- Soufiane El Amrani – Advocacy and easy-to-read Officer at Inclusion Europe.
Not all people with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to have a job
Soufiane El Amrani has been working at Inclusion Europe for more than 10 years. He shared with us how important it is to have a job and why all people with intellectual disabilities should have the same opportunity as him.
“Having a job is about being independent, it is about having co-workers and it makes me feel that what I do at Inclusion Europe is important. I have been working at Inclusion Europe for a long time and I am happy with my job. But I know not all people with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to have a job.” Soufiane
People with intellectual disabilities are left out of the job market and this situation needs to change. People with intellectual disabilities must be able to work and to get the support they need; including reasonable accommodations, job coaches, customised jobs, and specialised training. Watch videos supporting employment of people with intellectual disabilities
What were the main advances of the 2010-2020 Disability Strategy?
Katarina Ivanković-Knežević gave us more insight of the Disability Strategy. She presented positive outcomes of the 2010-2020 Disability Strategy.
“One of the most visible finding is that we have managed, with the Disability Strategy, to increase the visibility of the disability angle and to put it on the EU agenda.” Katarina Ivanković-Knežević
Some positive outcomes that Katarina Ivanković-Knežević pointed out:
- The European Commission has managed to find an agreement with the Eurostat to have every two years, starting from the next Disability Strategy, disability disaggregated data.
- In 2018, more than 600.000 young people were supported by the Youth Employment Initiative, among them 110.000 young people with disabilities.
- In May 2019, the European Commission launched the #EUvsDiscrimination campaign to inform EU citizens of their rights not to be discriminated against. A strand of the campaign focused specifically on reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, with a guide presenting promising practices introduced by employers from both the public and private sectors.
What would be the priority regarding employment in the 2020-2030 Disability Strategy?
The employment rate of people with disabilities is 52%. The employment rate of people without disabilities is 76%. The employment gap is around 25%.
“We need to get a step further when it comes to employment of persons with disabilities.” Katarina Ivanković-Knežević
Katarina Ivanković-Knežević presented some priorities regarding employment for the next Disability Strategy:
- Access to the labour market for people with disabilities.
- How employment services can work with and for people with disabilities.
- Free movement of people with disabilities in the EU: mutual recognition of disability between the Member states of the EU;
- Securing that people with disabilities remain in their workplace: skilling, up-skilling.
What would need to be improved in the next Disability Strategy?
“It is very important that the next Disability Strategy supports people with disabilities to find a job. It is one of the things that people with disabilities mentioned as being the biggest challenge for them. And the thing they want to see the most actions taken on.” Haydn Hammersley
Haydn Hammersley presented some ideas and requests that the European Disability Forum (EDF) has regarding employment in the next Disability Strategy:
- The EDF wants the European Commission to work on making sure the workplaces can change when a person with disability needs it.
- The EDF wants the Member states use quite a bit of the money they receive from the EU for making easier for persons with disabilities to find jobs.
- The EDF wants that the European Commission makes sure no people with disability who has a job is paid less than the minimum wage of their country.
- The EDF wants persons with disabilities who get a job can still get the money their governments give them to cover the extra-cost of living in a society that is inaccessible.
- The EDF wants mutual recognition of disability assessment among Member states.
How can Disabled People’s Organisations contribute to the implementation and monitoring of this next Disability Strategy?
According to Haydn Hammersley, for every action that the European Commission takes as part of the Disability Strategy, Disabled People’s Organisations must be consulted.
“We need the European Commission to tell us what the plans are. We need to tell them what we think. This happens. The Commission is very good at consulting.” Haydn Hammersley
Haydn Hammersley also explained that the new Disability Strategy will mainly include guidelines or recommendations. However, guidelines or recommendations do not really force the governments to do something. That is why Disabled People’s Organisations are very important at a national level to make sure national governments respect and follow these guidelines and recommendations.
Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on employment
MEP Milan Brglez underlined that persons with disabilities are at greater risk of poverty and social exclusion. They also are more likely to have health conditions, are less able to ensure physical distancing, and so face accessibility barriers. These barriers have grown with the pandemic measures, explained Milan Brglez.
According to him, the pandemic calls for even more engagement to deal with discrimination in access to employment.
“Every policy should be address by the way it accommodates the most vulnerable people of the society. The next Strategy must therefore include the aspect of social exclusion of persons with disabilities.” Milan Brglez
For Milan Brglez, the implementation of the Disability Strategy in the Member states is crucial.
“One of the aims of the 2010-2020 Disability Strategy was facilitating coherent effort between Member states in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as an increase in the EU level action. The next Disability Strategy should continue to maintain this.” Milan Brglez
Watch the online event:
More information about the MTFD project here.
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