Potential beneficiaries of the project, and representatives of: The Constanta County Recruitment and Employment Agency, General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection – Constanta, Constanta City Hall, The Constanta County School Inspectorate, Constanta Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Navigation and Agriculture, the Center for Inclusion "Albatros", and other non-governmental organisations participated at the event.
In the opening of the conference, Mr Nicolae Dobrescu, Executive Director of the HAO and the manager of the LEAD Project, spoke about: the integrated services in the field of supported employment offered through the LEAD project, how the young adults with disabilities can access to these services, and the value brought by the LEAD project on the Romanian labour market.
"In our country, only 4.6% of adults with disabilities work. Companies are still reticent about involving in supported employment process and hesitate to integrate people with disabilities. Through the implementation of this project, HAO has assumed the role of facilitator in the communication process between the potential employee of this socially vulnerable segment and the employer. The LEAD project is focused on the transfer of know-how and a good practice model in supported employment that has proven its viability in the UK. As a result of this project, information and consultancy, training programs for specialists in supported employment, and a good practice guide in employing young adults with disabilities will be provided to the companies which want to get involved in improving the employment situation of young adults with disabilities", pointed out the manager of the LEAD project.
According to Ms. Adelina Vlad, spokesperson for The Constanta County Recruitment and Employment Agency, the recent amendments to the Unemployment Law are favorable to the people with disabilities who are looking for a job, but also to companies which want to employ such persons. Thus, companies can receive a subsidy of 2,250 RON , monthly, for 18 months, for each person with disabilities, who graduated an education institution, employed, with the obligation to maintain working relations for at least 18 months.
In the second part of the conference, Ms Alina Dobrescu, coordinator of the supported employment program, spoke about the challenge which is working with people with disabilities, but also about the personal and professional satisfaction she has each time a person with disabilities has discovered their potential, step by step, works, keeps their job and becomes independent.
While listening to Mr. Iulian Gigea, co-founder of Cleaning Profi SRL, the participants at the event had the opportunity to find out how the supported employment process is perceived by an employer who has given a chance to people with disabilities who are willing to work.
The speeches delivered by: Ms. Andreea Susanu, Mr. Iulian Macovei and Mr. Cadar Ibram were very well received by the public. Ms. Andreea Susanu was diagnosed at birth with bilateral spastic paraparesis, but now she works as a speech therapist at General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection – Constanta. Mr. Iulian Macovei studied at the Maritime University Constanţa, but he had to redesign his future after a car accident. Mr. Cadar Ibram grew up in Negru Voda Neuropsychiatric Recovery and Rehabilitation Center, but now, he is hired and socially independent.
"Those are life-stories meant to inspire and motivate, but those are also solid reminders that our services are needed, that our project has substance and represents a chance for an accomplished life for other people with disabilities", pointed up Mr. Nicolae Dobrescu.
As a result of the LEAD project, 450 young adults with disabilities, aged 15 to 29, 150 from Romania alone, will benefit from supported employment services, will participate in training programs and volunteer activities, as well as they will take part in experience exchanges with potential employers. The parents and the legal guardians of young adults with disabilities will attend training programs in order to help their young adults acquire and maintain a job and will be helped to establish mutual support groups on this topic.
The LEAD project is co-funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment and it is implemented from the 1st of July 2018 to the 30 of June 2021 by a transnational consortium led by HAO, alongside partners from four contries: ZGURA-M LTD. (Bulgaria), Consultis - Consortia Empresarial, Unipessoal Lda. (Portugal), G.M EuroCy Innovations Ltd, (Cyprus) and Status Employment (United Kingdom). The overall objective of this project is to increase the accessibility of young adults with disabilities to the labour market, by applying optimal measures in their employment process. The total eligible costs of the project are €1,501,729, of which the grant amount is €1,276,387.
About the EEA and Norway Grants Fund
The EEA and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe. There are two overall objectives: reduction of economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor countries and 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. The three donor countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The donors have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014.
For the period 2014-2021, the EEA and Norway Grants amount to €2.8 billion. The priorities for this period are: Innovation, Research, Education and Competitiveness; Social Inclusion, Youth Employment and Poverty Reduction; Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy; Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights; Justice and Home Affairs. www.eeagrants.org