Seminar: Youth (Un)employment of Persons with Disabilities

Bucharest, Romania,
23 March 2019

Debriefing report written by Lillie Heigl

What was the meeting about?

The conference was dedicated to youth and employment of persons with disabilities. The youth committee held the conference on employment because employment provides means to an income but more importantly its participation in real social life and participation in society.

Opening

Opening speeches were delivered by Ms. Daniela Tontsch of the Romanian National Council of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis of the European Disability Forum, Mr. Adrian Chiotan from the National Authority of Persons with Disability representing here the Romanian Government and Mr. Traian Vrasmas of the National Information and Cooperation Network for Community Integration of Children and Youth with Special Education Needs.

Panel on Youth employment and disability in Europe

Mr. Matthieu Chatelin, Youth Committee member framed the topic and provided statistics and information about employment rate for persons with disabilities in the EU and in various member states. One of the most relevant figure is regarding the rate of people with activity limitation. The Academic Network of Experts on Disabilities (ANED) statistics from 2016 shows that 48.1%. of people who declared having an activity limitation are practice a working activity compared to 73.9% for the rest of the population.

Ms. Luminita Caldaras, a self-advocate with Inclusion Europe, gave personal experiences finding employment. She discussed her difficulties in finding and maintaining employment. Ms. Nikita Sanaullah, of the European Youth Forum, talked about what the EU is doing to support the employment of young people in the EU. She mentioned three such initiatives: the youth guarantee, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the seven-year EU budget called the Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF)

At the end of the panel, there was a question regarding an individual’s specific struggle as a person with a disability to find employment and how today’s youth can be supported and oriented in finding employment not just during their youth but their whole lives. The second question was about how to have a discussion with the European Union to ensure that the youth guarantee permits accessibility and how to make sure young people with disabilities are supported in this policy.
Panel on Employment of young persons with disabilities in Romania Ms. Escaterina Vrasmas, of RENINCO, presented on the role of education and training. Ms. Vrasmas described how even with new education laws, there is still a struggle to find the concept of inclusive education. The evaluation of children with disabilities has created greater unity within protection, health and education. In order to address employment, education must also be addressed. Ms. Diana Chiriacescus, of FONSS, discussed preparing for (assisted) employment in the labour market. Ms. Chiriacescus emphasized the importance of monitoring progress on implementation of the CRPD for employment, collecting data and investing in support services. Ms. Elena Baboi, of ANOFM, presented on the role of public counselling services. Ms. Baboi ended her discussion by emphasizing that the public sector and NGOs should refrain from criticizing one another.

Panel on EDF Youth Employer 2019 Contest

This panel was dedicated the contest for employers of young people with disabilities in order to showcase some best practices. The ceremony to recognize the winners was held at the end of the conference. EDF committee members agreed it was important to gather examples of good practices for employment in the open labour market. This panel made up the final phase of the contest in which conference attendees would vote for their favourite contestant. There were 26 applications from that met the criteria, representing 16 different countries. The initial selection was made by the EDF youth committee and executive criteria based on agreed upon criteria. This panel showcases the 3 finalists and gives them an opportunity to share their best practices and compete for first prize. The first contestant was Dafür Unternehmens- und Personalberatung, Austria. Dafür uses its services to help achieve an inclusive labour market by assisting and coaching young people with disabilities in finding and maintaining employment in the open labour market. Dafür also works with companies to help them give jobs to people with disabilities. A few of Dafür’s best practices include information events for HR people with information on the added value of hiring people with disabilities and a focus on digitalization such as an easy-to-read app for training and a computer assisted mediation platform that brings together the competences of their service users with job specifications of companies.

The second contestant was EasyPay AD – money transfers and payment services, Bulgaria. EasyPay allows users to go to one cash desk to pay for lots of different things such as heating, electricity, taxes, fines, phone bills, the national lottery or tickets for various events. EasyPay hires people with visual impairments or other disabilities and also works to make sure the work place is properly accessible and adapted. The final contestant was Lippischer Kombi-Service, Germany. The company pursues participation and inclusion for persons with disabilities. Within the company 40-50% of persons have disabilities such as learning, intellectual or deafness. Kombi Service has a small digitizing and media department, a branch called Pop & Corn that cooks for schools, nurseries and kindergartens, and several other facets as well. Dafür received 3rd place, EasyPay received 2nd place and Kombi Service was recognised as the 1st place winner.

Conclusion

This conference highlighted barriers facing young people with disabilities seeking employment and it as well as good practices and progress being made. Youth employment must be high on the agenda of the European disability movement, at both the European level and at a national level.

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