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Wanted: Jobs for the disabled

Physically or mentally disabled people can be diligent and motivated employees, but according to Finland’s Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD), few employers consider hiring from this pool of potential workers.

Kehitysvammaisten koulutusta ei hyödynnetä riittävästi työelämässä.
Many disabled persons are willing to work, but simply can't find jobs. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

According to the Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD), there are nearly 30,000 disabled persons in Finland’s southern region of Uusimaa, three-quarters of whom are willing and able to work.

However throughout the entire country just 350 individuals in this group have been successful in finding work. Disabled persons are commonly hired in the trade and service sectors, where they are usually assigned tasks such as cleaning or stacking shelves.

In general, employers have had mostly positive experiences with their disabled employees, said FAIDD chief executive Veli-Pekka Sinervuo.

“They are active and motivated.  Many of them have waited a long time before finding a job and reward their employers with good work,” Sinervuo noted.

Work without pay

Thousands of disabled persons have made their way into the nation’s workforce, but many of them aren’t necessarily paid for their efforts, often earning a daily rate of just a few euros.

According to Sinervuo, disabled workers should be paid on the basis of their efforts, just as is the case with any other employee.

“Some employers pay just a token fee, which basically amounts to lunch money. Of course it’s inexpensive for the employer, but ethically it’s a bit questionable to do business this way,” Sinervuo added.

Better options in Helsinki

The association head has called on the rest of the country to follow the example of Helsinki, which has hired a job coach to bring together disabled jobseekers and prospective employers. The job coach also supports newly-hired workers in the initial phases of employment.

“The job coaches have a key role in helping disabled workers find jobs. The best way to address the situation would be to place them in different municipalities. Naturally, we also need open-minded attitudes in the workplace to ensure that these workers are warmly received,” Sinervuo concluded.

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