Luk Zelderloo is secretary general at the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD)
Why a European Disability Employment Week and why in Brussels ?
L’ADAPT is a French association which has been working for 86 years on the social and professional integration of persons with disabilities. It currently supports, with its teams of professionals and volunteers, about 15,000 people and is at the source of the European Disability Employment Week (EDEW). The latter has two goals: on one hand, to organize what we call employment / disability actions, consisting of meetings between recruiters and disabled job-seekers, and on the other hand, to reach the general public with awareness raising actions.
Bolstered by positive results in France, L’ADAPT committed to plant the seed of EDEW in nearby countries. It comes from a political will to act together with associations and organisms that share the same concerns across Europe. By introducing them to a comprehensive approach, we hope to encourage them to implement their own action plans in their countries, so we can make the European Disability Employment Week grow together.In the light of this, and with our DESC project partners, we are pleased to hold an international conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on November 12th, followed by the first international Jobdating©, orchestrated in close partnership with the Walloon Association for the Integration of Disabled People (AWIPH). It represents a first step, powerfully symbolizing the development of an inclusive Europe.
Which are your expectations with regard to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, especially access to and retention of employment (securing career paths), and the means to contribute to it (supported employment) ?
The Week is a mean to promote the international convention concerning the rights of the disabled people (CIDPH). That particular text constitutes a tool for Human Rights. It reaffirms that each individual, suffering from any disability, must be entitled to any fundamental rights and freedoms, and therefore enjoy full citizenship.
In this respect, the ADAPT and its partners, members of the DESC project, EASPD, Fundacion Emplea, Scuola Viva Onlus, propose an ambitious Erasmus+ program. This project for equal opportunities consists of identifying efficient practices in Europe concerning the securing of employment and careers among young disabled people, paired with the distribution of a specific guide to social services professionals.
The common thread of the 19th European Disability Employment Week is the securing of professional paths. Supported employment is its high point. Indeed, the issues linked to employment access and retention are strategically important to the company as well as the society. Our fight is essential to avoid any breaking paths, possibly leading to social misery and isolation
In 2015 the first actions and cross-border meetings are being organised. What do you want for 2016 ?
2015 is a milestone with regard to promoting and securing career paths with the first European Disability Employment Week. A common communication plan of European scale is being put together by the four DESC partners. We are just at the beginning of a great adventure, and we hope to see new partners join us in 2016.
Already other countries are preparing to organize together the Week of the years to come. This network of committed partners is essential to coordinate and develop our actions on a European level, but also share our expertise and efficient practices on a whole new scale. Such is the great project awaiting us in the years to come, to serve the same cause!
Emmanuel Constans is president of L’ADAPT, association for the social and professional integration of the disabled people.
European Disability Employment Week
LADAPT and the European Disability Employment Week (EDEW)
Since 1997, LADAPT organizes the Disability Employment Week (Semaine pour l’emploi des personnes handicapées - SEPH), with the main following goals:
• to alert politics, economic and institutional partners, the social corpus and the common citizen
on the specific situation of persons with disabilities regarding employment
• to act and contribute to to the promotion of indiviual rights in the fields of access to employment
and job market, and more generally the exercise of citizenship
• to organize events, job forums, Jobdatings©, Handicafés©, conferences, Cafés des Réussites
– meant to favor meetings between persons with disabilities and institutional, political and economic
representatives and change représentations
• to encourage and support innovative actions contributing to the development of self governance
and full participation of persons with disabilities, using the volunteers from the Success Network of
LADAPT, the professionals and the partners
• given the recommandations given to the EU by the Rights Committee, specifically concerning
accessing and securing employment
• given the first report from the European Union on the 10 years of enforcing the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
In this context, Europe will propose that everyone, associations, politics, businesses, is able to formulate recommendations as to better enforce the CRPD.
A European Week for an ever growing commitment
Late September 2015, the European Commission proposed its conclusions relative to the 10 years of implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). LADAPT, EASPD, Fundación Emplea and Scuola Viva Onlus seize this opportunity to strengthen the message about securing career paths, in particular among the young, and developing support to do so.
• given the directive 2000/78/CE from the EU encouraging member states to respect a general
framework in favor of equal treatment concerning the employment of persons with disabilities
• given the treaty on the EU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
• given the communication of the commission entitled «European strategy 2010-2020 in favor
of persons with disabilities: a renewed commitment for an unhindered Europe» (COM(2010)0636)
• given the communication of the commission entitled «Europe 2020: a strategy for an intelligent,
sustainable and inclusive development» (Com(2010)2020)
• given the Eurofound report «Active inclusion of young people with disabilities
and health problems» (2012)
• that persons with disabilities are twice as affected by the European economic crisis, because they suffer a loss of income in addition to a reduction of aid services
• that disability affects one in every six persons in the European Union (source Eurostat)
• that the poverty rate among persons with disabilities is 70% more than the average UE population
• that their employment rate is 47% (vs 72% for general population)
• that among persons with disabilities, the 15-24 years old age group suffers an employment rate twice as high, making it the category the more likely at risk of social exclusion (INSEE, 2009)
• that the UE-2020 strategy for an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive development foresees an employment rate of 75% among the 20-64 years old and a reduction of 20 million people living in poverty or threatened by exclusion
It is essential, in order to deal with these facts, that we all act towards making the securization of career paths for persons with disabilities and their inclusion in all aspects of life, an inescapable topic.
Practical actions for access to employment and the securing of career paths
Thus, given these different texts and declarations, the DESC partners offer reflection to implement tangible actions in Europe, in order to promote employment access to persons with disabilities, in particular among the young, and to secure career paths through life.
Synthesis of the EDEW 2015 (French)
Through the European Disability Employment Week, the four DESC partners wish to expand their action, to further involve the different stakeholders and trigger a new dynamic at the European level, in particular regarding the employment of persons with disabilities.
The EDEW assumes a European dimension with events circling around the same message: the employment and the securing of career paths of persons with disabilities: acting for prevention, pricing potentials, getting ahead of ageing, reinventing access to employment and promoting supported employment.
More information on www.edew.eu.
Why a European Disability Employment Week and why in Brussels ?
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) represents over 11,000 support service provider organisations across Europe. We are active in Brussels since 1996 and we promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities through effective and high-quality service systems. We are convinced that the realisation of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole. Around one third of the EASPD membership is providing job-related services or employment to people with disabilities thus explaining why these topics are high on the agenda of service providers in Europe. EASPD and the French association L’ADAPT joined forces last year in the framework of the European project DESC (Disabilities Equality Security Careers), to promote equal opportunities in the labour market and secure professional career paths for young people with disabilities in Europe. The overarching goal of this project, coordinated by L’ADAPT is to set up the European Disability Employment Week in various European countries, starting from the countries involved in DESC project: Belgium, Italy and Spain. As a European NGO based in Brussels, we are co-organising an international conference on article 27 within the framework of the 2015 European Disability Employment Week. We are glad to work hand in hand with L’ADAPT to promote inclusive employment in Europe.
Which are your expectations with regard to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, especially access to and retention of employment (securing career paths), and the means to contribute to it (supported employment)?
The UN Convention recognises the need to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms by all persons with disabilities, including those who require more intensive support, on an equal basis with others. It is not only about people with disabilities, but also about the inclusiveness of the society we want to live in. This requires an essential element: the involvement of society as a whole. The European Disability Employment Week represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring together all the relevant stakeholders to work together and pull in the same direction: promote and secure the right to work and employment for all European citizens. In December 2014, the EASPD Board endorsed the new EASPD Employment Declaration which analyses the situation in Europe regarding the participation of persons with disabilities in the open labour market and highlights the need to shift the focus away from a disability perspective on to a skills and competences perspective. For that, we need the commitment and involvement of policy makers from all levels of government, employers, employees, support services and persons with disabilities.
In 2015 the first actions and cross-border meetings are being organised. What do you want for 2016?
Actions and activities organised within the framework of the EDEW require cross-sectorial cooperation and involvement of society. The spirit of the EDEW is in line with our multiannual strategy “Reaching Out” that seeks to reinforce cooperation or build new ties with mainstream actors. For 2016 I would like to see stronger partnerships between civil society organisations, disabled people organisations decision makers, trade unions, employers, employees and support services to establish an effective cooperation and ensure that real employment opportunities for persons with disabilities are made available.