Plans/strategy | Date: 14/08/2012
Short version of Jobs Strategy for People with Disabilities.
Why a Jobs Strategy?
People with disabilities face major challenges when seeking to join the labour market. The Norwegian Government’s Jobs Strategy is a targeted initiative to include more people in employment and reduce the number of benefit recipients.
A central goal under the tripartite agreement between the Government and the social partners towards a More Inclusive Working Life (the IA Agreement) is to increase the employability of people with disabilities. So far this target has not been reached. According to Statistics Norway, in 2011, 78,000 non-employed disabled people were looking for work. 22,000 of these were under 30 years of age.
The Jobs Strategy is an implementation of the 2009 Soria Moria II mission statement by the second Stoltenberg cabinet, and a reinforcement of one of the main goals of the IA Agreement to increase the employability of people with disabilities.
Who is the main target group and what is the objective?
In 2012, the strategy is aimed primarily at young people with disabilities under the age of 30. This is the age group that accounts for the greatest increase in the number of health-related benefit recipients. The transition between school and employment is given high priority in the strategy.
The objective of the Jobs Strategy is to increase the number of people in employment and reduse the number of people on benefits, in other words, improvements on several levels. This will enable society at large and enterprises to make better use of the skills and labour resources people with disabilities represent. Companies also stand to benefit greatly from having employees with diversified backgrounds and experience in life. It will also improve the financial independence and living conditions of each individual.
Four barriers reducing labour market participation
The Norwegian Government is directing its efforts towards reducing four barriers that make it difficult for people with disabilities to enter the labour market. These barriers affect both job-seekers and employers.
Discrimination barrier. People with disabilities may be exposed to discriminatory attitudes and actions when seeking employment.
Cost barrier. Employers may incur costs from hiring people with disabilities such as the costs of practical and physical adaptation, supervision and training.
Productivity barrier. The target group may include people with reduced or variable capacity for work.
Information and attitudinal barrier. A lack of information about instruments (e.g. subsidies) to facilitate employment, but also the prevalence of certain attitudes may prevent employers from hiring job-seekers with disabilities.
Initiatives in 2012
Initiatives to reduce the discrimination barrier
The Government is currently working on:
- A proposal for new anti-discrimination legislation in response to the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Discrimination Legislation.
- Revisions to the Act relating to civil servants
Initiatives to reduce the cost barrier
The Government proposes:
- A new scheme of facilitation subsidies for jobseekers with disabilities.
- Mentors to provide active, on-the-job supervision.
- Extended schemes for functional assistance.
- Facilitation guarantees to clarify what type of support job-seekers and employers are entitled to and when such support can be provided.
Initiatives to reduce the productivity barrier
- Disbursement of wage-subsidies for employers hiring people with reduced work capacity.
- Increased effort to encourage more pupils to complete upper secondary education and training.
Initiatives to reduce the information and attitudinal barrier
The Government proposes:
- To assign 500 places on labour market programmes to the strategy’s target group.
- Dedicated project manager/coordinator to be appointed in each county and within the Norwegian Directorate of Labour and Welfare.
- Working-life coaches in each county to be attached to the Inclusive Workplace Support Centres, who will be assigned to assist employers.
- Funding allocations to cover information activities and specialist and general competence development within the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).
The need for a concerted national drive to boost employment
Implementation of the Government’s Jobs Strategy will be dependent on effective cooperation between the social partners, organisations for people with disabilities, NAV, other public service providers and individual job-seekers.
The success of the drive to implement the strategy depends on the concerted efforts of all the proactive stakeholders. And above all, there is a need for employers who are willing to give young disabled people a chance of participation in working life.