People with disabilities held back by attitudes in working life
How do you open up the labour market for people with disabilities? While medical and technological advances keep breaking down barriers, attitudes are lagging behind. ”The most important thing is to see the abilities, not the disability, what people can do, not what they cannot do,” said Finland’s Minster of Labour when he met his Nordic colleagues and the social partners recently to discuss what can be done. But good attitudes are not enough. Nordic governments are bringing in new measures to compensate businesses for extra costs and the needed workplace adaptation. Now they want to see commitment from employers. The Nordic Labour Journal has met ministers and employers and not least people with disabilities who talk about what is needed to succeed.
How do you open up the labour market for more people with disabilities? It is a hot topic. Despite crisis and unemployment taking hold, labour ministers keep their strategic focus on mobilising more people to join working life. They highlight the long-term need for labour and that all have the right to be fully part of working and social life. The challenge is to get working life partners to back their initiatives.
Despite all ambitious attempts at getting people with disabilities into the Finnish labour market the sad truth is that they are being discriminated against. Now the government is making new efforts to give them a better chance.
A new Danish campaign aims to get more people with disabilities into work by getting job centres, businesses and people with disabilities themselves to look for opportunities rather than obstacles.
It is difficult for people with disabilities in Sweden to find jobs, and unemployment is considerably higher among people in this group compared to the rest of the labour force. At the same time there seems to be a growing commitment to change this. Faced with a shrinking workforce, there’s a need to get as many as possible into work now. The fight to secure the right to work for people with disabilities has also become a way to work for social sustainability.