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Bergeskog, Anders. 2001-11-26. "Labour market policies, strategies and statistics for people with disabilities - A cross-national comparison." Pp. 308-310.


This chapter has compared the labour force participation and employment rates for people with disabilities/employment restrictions in 21 OECD countries. The survey results indicate labour force participation and employment rates for people with disabilities which represent about 60 per cent of the participation and employment rates of people without disabilities. The corresponding results for the population with employment restrictions are about 50 per cent. The survey results in France, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden, with regard to the integration of people with disabilities/employment restrictions into the labour market, exceed the result of the average country, while the results in Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain are below average.

In several of the surveys, the degree to which the survey results correspond with reality may be questioned, due, for example, to the way in which the target population is defined. The surveys in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are examples of how the target population can be defined in a convincing manner.
In the other countries’ surveys, there is the problem of identifying the target group if only a single screening question is used.

Of the 11 countries that have provided more detailed information in the country reports, all countries, except the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal, have statistics on the number of participants with disabilities in labour market programmes. The labour force participation in Austria, Norway and Sweden appears, to a not unimportant extent, to consist of participants in labour market programmes. Therefore the target group’s labour force participation in these countries will be reduced, if these participants are excluded from the statistics.

The proportion of participants with disabilities in various types of labour market programmes and the current programme set-ups have been compared, both with respect to programmes especially targeted at people with disabilities and general programmes. Sweden, Austria and Ireland have the largest proportions of participants with disabilities in programmes, while the United Kingdom, Australia and Finland have the smallest. In the United Kingdom and Australia, most of the participants are in mainstream programmes. If the number of participants with disabilities in both targeted and mainstream vocational training, work experience and subsidized employment programmes are compared, the proportions in vocational training and work experience are of equal size in the United Kingdom (about 30 per cent each) and in Ireland (about 20 per cent each). In the Nordic countries, vocational training predominates in Finland and Norway (slightly more than 40 per cent), while the predominant programme type in Sweden is subsidized employment (almost 50 per cent).

With the exception of Norway and Sweden, there are no reports of impact evaluations of programmes targeted at people with disabilities, only simple monitoring and implementation studies.

The final section has discussed to what extent the ordinary policy and institutional framework is applied for people with disabilities. All 11 countries, except Australia and Poland, report the sharing of responsibility for disability issues between different central government departments. This is traditional in the Nordic countries and in most of the English-speaking countries. One implication is that the same department is responsible for labour market policy both for people with and without disabilities. In Austria and Finland, however, only a minor proportion of responsibility for labour market policies for people with disabilities rests with the same ministry as mainstream labour market policy, and in Australia, this only applies to responsibility for people with low impact disabilities.

The same local offices are used for both people with and without disabilities in Australia, though, and also in the remaining countries. Australia and New Zealand (piloted in the United Kingdom) have introduced common local offices (“one-stop-shops”) for the employment service and a number of social security services, where the individual has access to various services via one and the same case manager. Among the 11 countries, these countries were the first to introduce legislation to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in working life. Another common factor is that they had an explicit policy objective, during the 1990s, to reduce benefit dependency by helping people to obtain or retain gainful employment.

All 11 countries, except the Czech Republic, report labour market integration as a documented policy objective for people with disabilities, prior to passive income maintenance. Even if most of the countries have shifted or reinforced their policy in the direction of labour market integration during the1990s, they have had different points of departure. In principle, all 11 countries have employment in the open labour market as a goal, while only Ireland reports unsubsidized employment as an additional goal. There seems to a positive correlation between the proportion of people with disabilities in labour market programmes and the proportion of disability pension recipients, which could provide another indicator as to whether the policy focus is on benefits or (regular) employment. Both the proportion of disability pension recipients and the proportion of programme participants are limited in Australia and the United Kingdom, while both proportions are substantial in Sweden and Ireland. The coordination between disability pensions and the work injury scheme may partly explain the large proportion in Sweden.

In addition to describing different countries’ labour market policies for people with disabilities, this study attempts to establish some initial benchmarks for comparing national policies in this respect. This means of “measuring” the policy pursued can be as important as the policy itself in promoting the integration of the target group into the labour market. It may even be the case that quantitative comparisons effectively promote a more active policy in this area. However, more information than this study can provide is required to explain the statistical differences in labour force participation between the various countries. If people with disabilities are a high priority group in the labour market, statistical data to achieve more accurate and internationally comparable results should also be a high priority.

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Training as Vehicle to Employment, TVE, was a two year project that started in January 2006 and ended in December 2007.