Access to the general labour market for persons with disabilities


- Factsheet on the research project -

Access to the labour market is extremely difficult for people with disabilities or chronically ill persons. These circumstances are particularly severe, since participation in working life ensures economic independence, social acceptance, status and self-esteem as well as social inclusion for people with disabilities. Enterprises which exceed the quota of disabled staff members and have elaborated innovative integration schemes, report about positive experiences with regard to motivation and improvement of the working atmosphere. It is true that a professional training and a tailor-made vocational qualification are the prerequisites for being hired and employed, both for people with disabilities or chronically ill persons and also for non-disabled persons. However, even if disabled persons present their training and qualification certificates, they will face considerable obstacles in their access to the labour market. These are based on information and perception deficits and, last but not least, on a variety of prejudice about e.g. their working capacity and employment options. Among the large variety of persons with disabilities, those with a physical handicap have the best chances of being integrated into the working environment - insofar as their handicap is not highly striking; people with psychic disorders and/or mental health problems or with severe behaviour disorders have the slightest chances. They are met with great prejudice and behavioural uncertainty.

In conclusion, the study points out to:

Socio-psychological barriers

Although, as a rule, enterprises gain extraordinarily positive experience with disabled people or chronically ill persons as employees, the employers continue to have a broad range of reservations and partly massive assumptions of deficits. In many cases, there is a lack of preparedness for inclusion, and frequently this issue is not considered as a strategic task. As a result, people with disabilities repeatedly experience discrimination in job application procedures and at their workplace.

Institutional barriers

Access to the labour market is also rendered more difficult for disabled or chronically ill persons, because the workflow is not geared to the needs of staff members with disabilities or because there are fears of coming into contact with them. What matters is an active involvement of the disabled and the joint search for imaginative solutions. Moreover, now as before, there is still a lack of information and, especially of awareness with regard to the range of possible employments, the efficiency and toughness of people with disabilities or chronically ill persons. Frequently, there is also a lack of knowledge about special aids in cases of particular disabilities and diseases.

Structural barriers

The structure of the regional labour market and the difficult labour market situation on the whole render the employability of (severely) disabled persons more difficult. Consequently, from the point of view of disabled persons, an increase in the employment rate would lead to improved opportunities of integration. A specific disability management of companies and job placement agencies would also contribute to overcoming structural barriers.

In general, all three kinds of barrier lead to an exclusion of people with disabilities or chronically ill persons from participation in working life.