Six networks, namely the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), the European Disability Forum (EDF), the European Network of Social Integration Enterprises (ENSIE), the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR), the European Union for Supported Employment (EUSE) and Workability International, call on the European Union to act on the employment of persons with support needs such as persons with disabilities who continue to be hugely underrepresented in the workforce.
According to EU-SILC 2018, only around 50% of persons with disabilities are employed in EU-27, far below the average employment rate for non-disabled persons. The employment rate of women with disabilities is lower than that of men with disabilities (47.8% vs. 54.3%).
The recommendations to the EU policy makers listed in the joint statement include following actions: § Incentivize innovation in building an inclusive labour market, § Boost the generation of opportunities for people with more support needs in the mainstream labour market, § Support employers, and especially small and medium sized employers, to encourage the co-production of policies based on the active involvement of persons with support needs, § Stimulate the growth of knowledge, research and data all aimed to enhancing employment options, § Work with member states to foster the re-engineering of social protection systems to genuinely protect all workers as well as open new opportunities, § Support the creation of a facilitating ecosystem for support services with sustainable funding, stable legal frameworks and structural involvement of all stakeholders at both EU and national level.
The COVID-19 crisis hit disproportionally most of the groups in vulnerable situation, in particular for families with children, people with disabilities and those born outside of the EU, exposing them to the greater risk of poverty and social exclusion. The significant impact of COVID-19 on the economies is resulting in job losses and higher unemployment. The employment of persons with disabilities is likely to be hit hardest and decline even further without pro-active intervention.
Therefore, the interests of people with support needs and the recommendations listed in the joint statement must be taken into account in any economic stimulus measures and policy decisions by the EU related to the current COVID-19 crisis. This particularly applies to the development of the upcoming European Disability Strategy and the Action Plan on the Social Economy as well as the use of the EU Recovery and Resilience funds. Entities that would like to sign the joint statement can do so as from February 16, 2021 by contacting us. Contacts: Asel Kadyrbaeva, EASPD Senior Policy Officer Asel.Kadyrbaeva@easpd.eu