Social inclusion of people with ID
Access to the labour market is a difficult path for people with intellectual disabilities. The research findings show huge inequalities and discrimination, with people with any form of disability finding themselves much higher in the unemployment rates, compared to the general population. While there is a legislative framework aimed at tackling discrimination, barriers in the workplace have to do with socio-cultural factors, financial reasons and educating the public.
People with disabilities have been in the margin of exclusion of all educational levels for years and they have not been given the same rights and opportunities as the general population. As a result, they have been marginalised and haven’t been a part of the productive workforce. In addition, they have to face social prejudices and stereotypes, which deprive them of every opportunity to prove their potential. Society, in many cases, has failed to predict their needs. For instance, it is quite common that even if employers want to hire a person with a disability, they are not able to do so, as the infrastructure cannot accommodate it.
Various organisations and associations make their main concern giving free access to work. Education, training and work are key pillars to the smooth and unrestricted integration of individuals into society. Apart from it being a right of all people, work is a means of empowerment and visibility for people with disabilities.
The aim of the Erasmus KA2+ PR.E.S.T.O. “PRomoting pEople with diSability Transnational mObility”, which is co-funded by the European Union, is to promote the social inclusion and to facilitate the transition to the labour market of people with intellectual disabilities, thanks to their involvement in transnational mobilities. In this project, people with intellectual disabilities from Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and Poland, will have the opportunity to travel abroad, work in local businesses and experience different cultures. A project like that can have a huge impact on direct participants, businesses and society in general. Participants and their own families will come out of a cycle of exclusion and demotivation, thanks to a highly engaging, on-the-job learning experience. The acquisition of news skills and competences will increase their autonomy and capacity to enter the job market. This kind of experience will improve their levels of self-perception which are low, due to social prejudices (Herr and Cramer, 1996) and improve their quality of life (Jahoda et al.,2007). On the other hand, businesses will shed some myths regarding what it is like to work with people with intellectual disabilities. This could lead businesses to improve their practices in order to facilitate people with disabilities, thus resulting in practices benefitting all employees (International Labour Organization, 2014).
Work is an aspiration for many people with intellectual disabilities and is regarded as a vital goal by policy-makers in the pursuit of social inclusion. Creating a network of people and businesses that have experienced working with people with disabilities, is certainly an important step towards achieving an inclusive workplace society.
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