Integrating people with disabilities into the labour market
Approximately 15% of the world’s population – one in seven people – have a disability. Nowadays, rather than being seen as welfare recipients and objects of charity, these people are widely understood to be citizens with rights. Including people with disabilities in the labour market is part of the paradigm shift on disability that has taken place since the advent of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. People with disabilities can perform almost any job and in a conducive environment most can be productive. Excluding people with disabilities from the labour market has cost implications for national economies (up to 7% of GDP in some countries), whereas providing access to employment breaks the vicious circle of disability and poverty. It is therefore high time to bring an end to employment discrimination against people with disabilities and to the situation where these people’s unemployment levels are nearly double that of the rest of the population.
Central to the paradigm shift sought for the development of an inclusive labour market is a tripartite group comprising employers, the workforce and affected employees.
This group will draw on the public authorities and on employment and training specialists, operating in conjunction with those involved in basic and vocational education.
Including people with disabilities in the labour market delivers multiple benefits. From a company’s point of view, inclusion makes it possible to:
- promote diversity in the company, reflect on how work is organised, and review implementation processes to make them accessible to more people, regardless of their situation;
- facilitate internal vocational retraining, and retain qualified personnel thus avoiding a high turnover of staff;
- strengthen the company’s social commitments;
- improve team cohesiveness;
- move towards a more personalised approach to management.
From the individual’s point of view, gaining access to employment provides the opportunity for socialisation, participation and empowerment, and the ability to participate in society.
When the company’s needs and the person’s skills are properly matched, the latter’s motivation to work and their humanity can often serve to inspire the wider workforce. It is not only the person with a disability who benefits from this; the whole company does too.
Companies adopting an individual-focused management policy (i.e. paying more attention to the individuality of employees to improve how they work with each other) gain new skills and a stronger workforce.