On the 24th of November from 15:00-16:30 CET, Inclusion Europe organised an online event “Work to Inclusion: Jobs for people with intellectual disabilities in the labour market” as part of the “My Talents. For Diversity” project. As the goal of the project is to foster the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the open labour market through diversity management, in this event companies shared their perspective, experiences and knowledge of employing people with intellectual disabilities.
László Bercse – Inclusion Europe’s vice-president and chair of the European Platform of Self-advocates Steering Group
Tibor Czakó – ÉFOÉSZ Self-Advocacy Coordinator
Sarah Stemgée – Human Resources Director at Antwerp Management School (AMS)
Thibeau Bastien – Junior Researcher at (AMS)
Anouk Van Hoofstadt – Senior Researcher at (AMS)
Klaus Candussi – Managing Director at Atempo
Melanie Wimmer – Staff member of Atempo
Roman Bojko – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Leader – Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia at Ikea Group
Ian Oja – Development Manager at EVPIT
Employment of people with intellectual disabilities in the open labour market
Employment in the open labour is necessary for inclusion László Bercse, the Vice President of Inclusion Europe and the Chairperson of the European Platform of Self-advocates, highlighted the importance of people with intellectual disabilities accessing the open labour market. To do so, vocational training must be accessible, and people need to receive real salary for real work just like everybody else: “If we have a job and a salary, we can be financially independent and live independently! “. Yet, many people with intellectual disabilities have lost or worry about losing their job due to Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is from great importance that governments consider persons with intellectual disabilities when planning response mechanisms and listen to the voices of self-advocates – to leave no one behind, said László.
Inclusive employment opportunities: from human resources to research
From the Antwerp Management School, hereafter AMS, Sarah Stemgée (Human Resources Director), Thibeau Bastien (Junior Researcher) and Anouk Van Hoofstadt (Senior Researcher), joined us to talk about their experience in recruiting Thibeau, who has an intellectual disability, as a Junior Researcher at AMS. AMS experience shows how making the recruitment process accessible, ensuring reasonable accommodation, involving colleagues and creating mentoring systems has not only benefitted Thibeau but the whole organisation. For example, the mentoring system that was set up for Thiebau has been proven so successful, that it will from now on be applied to every new colleague joining AMS. Thibeau said, that it was his first paid employment at AMS and that he really enjoyed working with the team, conducting research and felt accepted by the team – showing how important meaningful inclusion is essential for inclusive employment.
The employee’s and the employer’s perspectives
Klaus Candussi, the managing director at Atempo, an Austrian based social enterprise, presented how Atempo aims to bring people with intellectual disabilities in new roles in society and employment, through assisting them in the transition to the open labour market and to become independent, by providing training. After 20 years, Atempo has now 90 staff members of which 20% of the employees have an intellectual disability. Melanie Wimmer, who is a former trainee of Atempo and now an accessibility expert and an Incluencer (Influencer for Inclusion) shared that during her schooltime everybody told her that she would never get a job, now 10 years later she says: “I am happy my teachers were wrong. I have a job now, earn money and am very happy”.
Becoming a world leader in equality
Roman Bojko, who is the equality, diversity and inclusion leader in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia at the IKEA Group, spoke about IKEA’s vision to become a world leader in equality and achieving the national requirements for including people with disabilities in the workplace by 2022.
“Trying to be a diverse company is about trying to be as we are in our society. Making sure everyone is represented in the company, we better represent society.” – Roman Bojko, IKEA Group
To achieve this goal, it is not about quantity, but about the quality of the experience, through adjusting job offers that support the employment of people with intellectual disability, through :
- Aligning: Reflecting with leaders on barriers and opportunities
- Mapping: Identifying job profiles based on the needs and conditions
- Recruitment: Adjust the advertising and hiring process
- Onboarding: Feedback and Dialogue of leaders and co-workers
Effect of Covid-19
Ian Oja, the development manager at EVPIT talked about how Covid-19 has affected the employment of persons with intellectual disabilities in Europe. Despite data being insufficient and inconsistent, the gathered information and research show that the lockdown measures and the closing of businesses put the employment of people with intellectual disabilities at risk. He highlighted examples of Czechia, Germany, Spain and England that show that people with intellectual disabilities have lost their job amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and have been impacted in their ability to work, which has impacted their material welfare as well as their quality of life.