Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Finland, study shows disabled people struggle to find work

From YLE in Finland:

Despite the fact that many people with physical disabilities would like to work, they are clearly underrepresented in the labour maket, a fresh report indicates.

As a group, the physically disabled are an underused, significant economic resource, according to a report released by the Sitra Finnish Innovation Fund and VATES Foundation.

The implementation of work experience training programs for the disabled could help more people get long-term employment, Jukka Lindberg, Development Manager at VATES, said.

Examples from England and Sweden show that work experience and training in the workplace significantly improves employment prospects.

However, as a group people with disabilities often don't find their way into employment programs, and Lindberg said the reasons behind this roadblock will be looked at more closely.

The VATES and Sitra survey found that companies are indeed interested in hiring the disabled, but among other things, they need to get more information about various financial aid available to them and prospective employees.

There are some 200,000 disabled people in Finland. According to the survey, one-third of the group were found to a have good ability to work, and many seek regular part-time jobs.

Economically speaking, Lindberg said, this demographic is a major labour resource that should be exploited.

"We should get away from focusing on the handicap and instead look at the person's knowledge and motivation," Lindberg said.

The VATES Foundation promotes employment and vocational rehabilitation of people with disabilities or other disadvantaged groups. Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, is charged with promoting "stable and balanced development in Finland, the growth of its economy and its international competitiveness and co-operation," according to its web site.