The 2021 Zero Project conference on technology and employment had EASPD extremely involved and active. The first session held on 10th February kickstarted the conference with a panel discussion on COVID-19 and its impact on the employment of persons with disabilities. A talk was given by a range of speakers from Goethe Frankfurt University, the International Labour Organisation, Inclusion Europe and EASPD members active in the field of employment (EMINO, F. ONCE & BAG WfbM).
Following this, the second session held on 12 February moved the discussion of the employment issue to the EU. There were representatives from the three institutions as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities discussing the role of the EU in ensuring an inclusive recovery.
EASPD recognises how important it is to achieve an inclusive environment, leaving no one behind and treating those who are excluded, first. In this context, providing employment to persons with disabilities is crucial. EASPD drew a few noteworthy conclusions from the Zero Project conference, some of them being the following;
- Accessibility and reasonable accommodation are crucial.
- There is a need to motivate employers by better guidance, job coaching, using subsidies efficiently alongside lesser paper work.
- Proper funding of organisations that help persons with disabilities in the labour market.
- A continued development of skills through learning at the workplace.
- Focus on new growth areas in both- digital and green fields that should be better equip to provide jobs to persons with disabilities.
Amidst these key points and action that can be taken at a national level, it is important to note that the EU also has a toolkit in place and a budget of €1.8 billion which needs to be geared towards creation of an inclusive labour market. There is also an urgent need for the EU to implement the legal framework in place such as state aid, public procurement and others along with proper economic governance and the EU Skills Agenda.
In this effect, the EU Disability Strategy would also be a stepping stone when it comes to achieving the employment goals. This strategy is yet to be released and will be created to boost employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
To make this goal achievable, EASPD would be engaged with various institutions in the coming few months to ensure that the EU’s ambitious social policy agenda for 2021 truly does makes a difference for service providers for persons with disabilities.