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Global Economy

Inclusion succeeds with education and job opportunities

This Real Economy episode is about the social and labor market rights of people with disabilities. Which job barriers do people with disabilities have to overcome in Europe? Two reports show how women in Spain and Poland have successfully integrated into the labor market. But only a good half of people with disabilities have a job. The EU Commissioner for Gender Equality, Helena Dalli, speaks about measures at European level.

The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

In the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and the Disability Rights Strategy, the Commission called on Member States to set targets to close the employment gap between people with and without disabilities and targets for the education of adults with disabilities to set.

While the EU Employment Equality Directive makes an important contribution to promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities in employment, including in relation to reasonable accommodation in the workplace, more needs to be done to improve labor market outcomes for people with disabilities ensure disabilities.

In March 2021, the Commission adopted a new strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities for the period 2021-2030, which is in line with the objectives of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The Commission intends to launch a Disability Employment Package in 2022 to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, aiming to work with the European Network of Public Employment Services, social partners and organizations of people with disabilities. The main areas for action are: strengthening the capacity of employment and integration services, promoting recruitment and combating stereotypes, ensuring reasonable accommodation, ensuring health and safety at work and vocational rehabilitation in the event of chronic illness or accidents, exploring quality jobs in sheltered employment and Pathways to the open labor market.

Education and work are important means of inclusion

There are an estimated 87 million people with disabilities in the EU. Many people are likely to be confronted with a disability at some point in their lives – be it through an accident or an illness. A job is one of the best ways to ensure independence and social inclusion – but only just over half of people with disabilities are employed.

A success story from Spain

In Spain, the number of people with disabilities integrated into the labor market has increased by more than 20% over the past six years, thanks largely to public funding and programs.

In Madrid, the ONCE Foundation supports projects that help improve the lives of people with disabilities, such as B. "Talento Digital", a professional integration program that offers digital and technological training.

Alicia Gómez Escribano, 23, completed a programming course at Talento Digital. The hearing-impaired woman recently got her first job as an app tester: "My colleagues' conversations make it difficult for me to concentrate. They set me apart so that I would have less headaches and I was also given headphones that block out the ambient noise reduced," she says."

She works for a public company. They have a social inclusion plan, which means that everyone's needs are met. Project manager Ana Belén Blanco del Campo at the Tragsa Group says: "The key is good communication between the employer and the employee about his work and about his needs. The company must reflect society as it is."

"Talento Digital" trains people with disabilities in the new technologies. There are many opportunities in this area, according to David Alonso, the person responsible for professional integration at the foundation: "We use this large gap in the market to train professionals who are just as productive as a person without disabilities."

Reflecting all of society

Partly funded by the European Social Fund, the program has trained more than 5,000 young people in 2021 and is planning further courses in advanced technologies. David Alonso believes: "People with disabilities should be represented in all areas of society."

Alicia Gómez Escribano started her career in a promising sector in which she feels integrated. This is one of the aims of the European Pillar of Social Rights: a guide for fair and inclusive social policies in Europe.

education and determination

In Kraków, Poland, the euronews reporter meets a woman fighting for equality in the workplace: Monika Jankowska-Rangelov, Head of Inclusion & Diversity at State Street:

"I have a motor disability, I got sick when I was 2 years old. I suffer from dermatomyositis, a disease that limits my freedom of movement and also causes internal ailments," she says. Monika Jankowska-Rangelov invites the reporter to her home to tell more about her university career. Higher education is one of the first problems for people with disabilities in their careers: in Europe around 30% achieve a university degree, compared to more than 40% for people without disabilities.

And she continues: "I was lucky that my parents always explained to me that I have to work with my mind because I can't work physically. I wanted to get a degree at the teacher training college, but it was for me Not accessible by public transport."

So she studied languages. Step by step she worked her way up to her dream job. With her determination, she overcame many obstacles. Because even if companies are open to social inclusion, losing the disability pension is one of the obstacles for people with disabilities to find a job:

"Removing the limits would help, because I have a lot of expenses, for example for my monthly medication needs," says Monika Jankowska-Rangelov. "And even with my salary, it's always a challenge to cover all expenses."

Better accessibility, financial support and the implementation of plans for social inclusion in the workplace: for Monika Jankowska-Rangelov these are ways to break down barriers:

"Education is key and awareness of inclusion for all employees, as well as seeing disabled people as normal. There are more and more people with disabilities around us, and like me, they deserve the best opportunities in the workplace, to be active and live their lives to the fullest to enjoy."

Actions at European level

The European Parliament deals with legislation – the Employment Equality Directive, for example. And in 2021, the European Commission adopted a Disability Rights Strategy, which includes initiatives to support the right to independent living and equal participation in all spheres of life. The euronews reporter spoke to EU Commissioner Helena Dalli about measures at European level.

Euronews reporter Naomi Lloyd: Why are there still so many barriers to work for people with disabilities in Europe?

Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Gender Equality: Where to start? This is an issue that we really need to address. People with disabilities face so many problems when entering the labor market, even earlier, for example with their education and access to education. We need to look at this reality from the perspective of the rest of society and what it is doing to enable its citizens to enter the labor market. Employers should create decent conditions for people with disabilities.

Euronews: What is the European Commission doing to remove these barriers?

Helena Dalli: There is the Disability Rights Strategy. It addresses the points raised here. There is the Disability Employment Package where we talk about the need for reasonable accommodation and how we can encourage and help people with disabilities to find work. And there is, for example, the platform for people with disabilities, where different organizations are represented and share best practices. I really value meeting people with disabilities because they are the experts on their reality. And we exchange ideas with the social partners about what we have learned, there is a constant exchange.

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