How technology activates people with disabilities in the labor market?
The situation of people with disabilities is improving year by year, but the labour market is still not ready to absorb more of them. The cards under the table are still technology, which has not finished the last hand in this game.
Echoes of the past
According to the website niepelelnosprawni.gov.pl, The results of the Labour Force Survey show that three years ago compared to the year before 2019, the labour force participation rate of people with disabilities of working age increased by 0.5 points. proc. and was at the level of 28.8%. Statistics at that time showed an upward trend in economic activity, raising the activity rate.
In addition, in 2019 again recorded the level of unemployment rate of disabled people of working age (18 – 59/64 years) at – 7.2%, and the number of economically active disabled people of working age counted 458 thousand., of which 425,000. The number of the working population was 33,000, and the number of the unemployed was 33,000. unemployed persons. Thus, data indicate that working-age people with disabilities accounted for 92.8 percent of all economically active people with disabilities.
Nevertheless, the situation of disabled people differed significantly from that of people without disabilities. The difference between the employment rate of non-disabled and disabled people of working age was then 51.6 percentage points. and between the unemployment rate of these groups – 3.8 percentage points.
Source: Study of the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Disabled Persons’ Affairs based on LFS data.
How it is today?
As we are informed by the CSO indicators, at the end of 2020, there will be 2.4 million people in Poland who receive pension benefits and/or are insured by contributors in the Social Insurance Institution. These were people with disability status (issued by medical teams or ZUS). Most people with disabilities work in medium and large enterprises in the private sector, accounting for 76% of the workforce. participation of all disabled in the market. The Central Statistical Office also calculates that more than 50 percent of the. of people with disabilities work in Administration and support services (104 thousand).) and in the Manufacturing sector (80 thousand jobs).).
Poland in regression?
As the CEO of Adecco Poland convinces In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, access to specialists is crucial for the development of the economy. Meanwhile, in terms of attractiveness for development and acquiring talented employees, Poland’s position is weakening, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index report. Poland has no idea how to manage people without work. It is not able to use the potential of people 50+, some women have left the market, it will be crucial to attract people who left abroad – says Anna Wicha.
From the article in the Newseria portal we can find information that Poland is in an increasingly weak position in relation to other countries with similar socio-economic conditions. It is overtaken by Slovakia, which is in 41st place, followed by Latvia in 37th place, and even earlier by Lithuania in 35th place, but the best in the region is the Czech Republic, which is in 25th place. Anna Wicha with this data tries to change the paradigm of thinking, that the only indicator of a country’s development is the measurement of GDP indicators, which without an educated workforce will have no meaning and will quickly regress. According to expert, we may lose our leading position in the region and never catch up with western countries if Poles don’t find a way to activate elderly and unemployed people.
Unemployment in Poland is below 6%. with an estimated 150,000 vacancies. The General Director of Adecco Poland believes that the issue of women who do not work thanks to Family 500+ and older people, because they are over 50 years old, should be taken into consideration.ż. more than 70 percent. seniors are already inactive.
Advantages for people with disabilities
Entrepreneur’s Guide sees the low employment of people with disabilities mainly in stereotypes and ignorance. It turns out that people with disabilities can be more grateful for the opportunity to work and work more efficiently than people without disabilities. Moreover, the entry shows that most employers do not employ people with disabilities even if they are specialists. Employers prefer to hire people with fewer qualifications, which turn out to be insufficient and disrupt the market operation of the company within the structure of work and organization by extending the recruitment process itself, which is the result of constant rotation. As we can see, it is a merry-go-round in which all users of the process lose. Employers can also count on support in financing payments for such employee through PFRON.
Disabled people an opportunity in development?
Newseria also reinforces our belief that remote work is not only a convenience for employees, but also an opportunity for the disabled group to earn money. Employment of people with disabilities is much more common today, thanks to technology, and although it is still at a low level, initiatives to change this state of affairs are already visible in the background.
Technological development includes greater access to equipment and the Internet, but also the development of devices such as assistive glasses, special keyboards or sign language interpreters for sounds.
– We would like the labor market in terms of employing people with disabilities in 5-10 years to catch up at least a little with European indicators. Today in Poland the employment rate is slightly above 28%., and in some countries it is even 50-60%. and we look at it with envy. This is the general objective of public policies in this area – said Przemysław Herman, Director at the Department of the European Social Fund in the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy.
Article indicates that there may be as many as 3 million people with disabilities in our country today. According to NIK, 80 percent of. of them are not working and are not looking for a job. The situation is not improving, despite public funding.
Hopeless (un)awareness of Poles
NIK report indicates that most often taking a job is prevented by health, but there are also low skills and education level, which affect psychological barriers and complexes. The Supreme Chamber of Control and public benefit organizations also say that psychological barriers are also crucial for employers, who believe in stereotypes and do not want to hire people from this social group. – There is no other group so severely disadvantaged in the labor market as people with disabilities – says Majka Lipiak, president of the I’m Leaving and Working Foundation.
Employers are afraid that they do not have the competences to communicate adequately with the disabled, that they will not create suitable working conditions or that they will face unpleasant legal consequences for doing so. People with disabilities themselves are often unaware that they can work if they are approved by the Occupational Medicine Centre and do not believe that they can educate themselves and work normally. People without such problems, on the other hand, may face inadequate architecture and transport, which makes it impossible to get to the workplace, which is dramatically helped by remote working.
– The pandemic has to some extent shifted us all to the side of people with disabilities. One day we all started working from home, with different problems, but we were all in the same situation. We’ve proven to ourselves that it’s possible to work this way[…] The problem is that legislation hasn’t kept up with technology, and that’s a diplomatic statement. If there is the right legal framework, technologically there are no barriers for people with disabilities to work remotely, of course to the extent of their competence – emphasizes Ryszard Hordyński, Director of Human Resources. strategy and communication at Huawei Poland.
Technology at the service of the disabled
Horodyński also says that now all you need to work is a computer, a fast internet connection and proper training. For those with greater difficulties, new technologies are now available, as seen at last year’s Huawei Startup Challenge. The competition was won by startup Wheelstair, which developed a solution to enable wheelchair users to climb stairs independently. Second was Associated Apps and its virtual voice assistant that navigates blind and visually impaired people through public buildings. In third place, in turn, was Parrot One and a keyboard that supports the work and communication of people with hand muscle dysfunction.
– Today we have a labor shortage, and employers are not reaching out for some reason to resource people with disabilities who can work. This is a great resource for employers to tap into. If we show the productivity of these people, it should break down the barriers of employers – assesses Przemysław Herman.
Activation of people with physical disabilities can be beneficial for the companies themselves, but above all it is a chance to improve the lives of those involved. No less important is the psychological factor which will certainly take a positive direction when a person beyond his/her illness will be able to engage in the development of himself/herself, the products, the company, the market and consequently the economy.