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Employment for young people with disabilities

By Julia Stradiotto

The European Union (EU) has chosen 2022 as the European Year of Youth. As part of the thematic, employment of young people with disabilities was the subject of the hearing organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) held on 8th April. The aim of the event was to reflect on the steps the EU could take to progress this matter.

The hearing brought specialists in disability policies, including social partners and civil society organisations, to address the new EU Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the major problems in relation to employment and education faced by young people with disabilities.

According to Pietro Barberi, President of the EESC Thematic Study Group on Disability rights, young people with disabilities face obstacles to approach the employment market in both private and public sector. The most recent data available indicates that people with disabilities have 24.4% less chance to be hired in the EU.

Meanwhile, Daphne Nathalie Ahrendt, Senior Research Manager at Eurofound, presented that young people with disabilities are 2.25 times more likely to be unemployed according to the results of a Eurofound survey. According to the results, a high majority of respondents with disabilities are less likely to feel optimistic about the future and feeling like they are being left out of society.

Francesca Sbianchi from the European Disability Forum’s Youth Committee says that the biggest concern is the minimum income considering the high cost of living and that persons with disabilities depend on support services and the disability allowances to live with dignity. One of the main conditions to reduce inequality would be to allow persons with disabilities to keep their allowance when they start working to provide an opportunity to become financially independent and help with additional cost they are facing, according to the EESC. Social services are also a key element to prepare them to enter the employment market, as explained by Anna Kwiatkiewicz-Mory from Business Europe.

It is noted that digitalisation of the employment market could be part of the solution and the committees of every country and society in general should work together to improve workplace and allow this change. Technology should be an ally considering it can generate more opportunities and support to persons with disabilities in the workplace (i.e., assistive technology).

It is important to understand the current situation and the reality of young people with disabilities who face greater discrimination. It is essential to take action to progress, allowing young people with disability to live their lives as any other citizen: studying, working, travelling with independency and no discrimination to follow their own path.

To find out more about the employment for young people with disabilities, see the full article here.

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