Their performance is often equal to or greater than that of people without disabilities, and yet, the socio-labour incorporation of those who belong to this group still comes up against numerous educational, professional and cultural barriers. The 8% increase in the hiring of disabled people during 2022, probably as a result of the conversion of active temporary contracts into permanent or discontinuous permanent ones, has been balanced in 2023 with a contraction in the number of contracts, as a result of the decrease in temporary. “It must be taken into account that short-term temporary contracts served as a trial period and a subsequent channel for indefinite hiring,” says Francisco Mesonero, general director of the Adecco Foundation.
After the labor reform, what is really important, he explains, “is to analyze whether the impact it is having is helping to generate more stable contract models with better conditions.” The figures invite moderate optimism, since, despite indicating a favorable trend, the employment rate of people with disabilities is still 24%, twice the national unemployment rate (12.15% in the first quarter of 2023, according to the National Institute of Statistics).
Much of this new employment is formalized within the context of the Special Employment Centers (CEE), regulated companies whose staff is made up of at least 70% of people with disabilities, and who work for the labor inclusion of people of this group in ordinary companies. In Spain there are, in total, some 2,300 CEEs, which employ approximately 100,000 people, according to data from the National Confederation of Special Employment Centers (Conacee).
Challenges for labor inclusion
There is no doubt that, in recent years, considerable progress has been made in terms of awareness, and that more and more companies are betting on the talent of people with disabilities. However, its activity rate (and that is the other side of the coin) is still meager, at 34%. Something similar happens in the CEEs: “According to SEPE, three out of four contracts for people with disabilities are signed through a CEE (…), but only 17% of people with intellectual disabilities have a job,” says Luis Cruz. , CEO of Integra CEE.
But what are those challenges that hinder the labor inclusion of people with disabilities? For Mesonero, it is necessary to address two needs: the educational and the cultural. “The first because, historically, people with disabilities have suffered school failure as they progressed in their studies; This is because the educational system is neither adapted nor normalized to accommodate students with different disabilities”, although he admits that this reality has gradually been corrected.
On the other hand, cultural factors remain deeply rooted in the social imaginary. Aspects among which are ignorance, indifference, prejudice, overprotection and discrimination, as indicated by the Adecco Foundation:
- ignorance. The absence of information and experiences with people with disabilities cause insecurity and unconscious discriminatory attitudes. Awareness, training and dialogue are the best tools to combat it.
- Indifference. The passive attitude with which society sometimes shows itself towards people with disabilities makes them invisible; the environment continues to be indifferent towards their challenges, difficulties and needs.
- prejudices Valuation and anticipated judgments based on tradition and stereotypes cause a superficial estimate of people that leads to discrimination and exclusion.
- Overprotection. This factor occurs, above all, in the family environment, but also in the professional one. Treating people with disabilities with condescension or excessive protection hinders their learning and professional development process.
- Discrimination. Derived from all of the above, it materializes in a different, harmful and/or vexatious treatment towards people due to disability.
The Special Employment Centers
“It is true that there are many types and degrees of disability, but that does not prevent the objective of their integration,” explains José Manuel Mellado, CEO of the Talent and Experience CEE. These entities, divided between those of social initiative and those of business initiative, are work environments specifically designed to encourage and train people with disabilities from employment. Thus, with their work they offer ordinary companies the possibility of fulfilling a double objective: achieving a social and competitive solution to their needs and complying with the legal obligations that the General Law on Disability establishes for companies with more than 50 workers ( 2% of employees with disabilities).
However, in that same social work for the labor inclusion of this group is one of its greatest risks, and that is that the EWCs “go from being a necessary and transitory protection mechanism, a springboard towards ordinary employment, to perpetuate themselves as finalist option, so that people with disabilities do not consider new professional horizons”, argues Mesonero.
These centers are also characterized by an important training component and by support units focused on facilitating this labor inclusion, “so that disability is never a limitation,” recalls Cruz. These are departments formed “by specialized technicians (psychologists and social workers) to accompany these people in their adaptation to the position in which they can best function and obtain the appropriate benefits, in addition to offering psychological, care and family support; training workshops; and help with administrative tasks”, describes Mellado.
Training is, on the other hand, “a fundamental piece for the development of the EWCs. At Integra, for example, we focus a lot on job-specific training, but we also develop ongoing training in interpersonal skills, new technologies, and occupational risk prevention,” adds Cruz. Present throughout the national territory, 90% of its more than 4,500 workers come from this group.
Social agents for labor insertion
Achieving full labor inclusion requires a full commitment from all the social agents involved, “especially with regard to public administrations, companies, the associative fabric and society itself,” says Mesonero. The first, through educational plans, active employment policies and public-private collaboration; companies, through their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies; and collaboration with organizations from the third sector (associatives), “which, as highly connoisseurs of the needs of people with disabilities, have to carry out personalized and innovative support”, adds the general director of the Adecco Foundation, from where A personalized accompaniment is also carried out for these people, maximizing their strengths and helping them to improve their employability.
Inclusive technology, artificial intelligence and training are, for Mesonero, three other tools that play a central role in their labor integration. “The first two, well articulated, can become employment accelerators for people with disabilities, due to their great capacity to overcome historical barriers that they have traditionally encountered at a physical, cognitive and/or sensory level”, he explains. Some intelligent systems are not exempt from risks either: it is necessary to guarantee that they are inclusive, introducing positive examples of people with disabilities in the training data or betting on universal accessibility.
On the other hand, the Adecco Foundation has just launched the sixth edition of its training scholarships, allocating 300,000 euros in study aid and undergraduate, master’s and FP scholarships. To request them, young people must have a certificate of disability equal to or greater than 33%, be born between 1993 and 2007 and be enrolled in the 2023-2024 academic year. The aid will be up to 2,000 euros per applicant.
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