This event was organised in Constanta within the project "Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD".
Journalists, alongside young adults with disabilities and reprezentatives of: companies, the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection – Constanta, the Traian Placement Center, the Center for Inclusion "Albatros", and other non-governmental organizations participated at the event.
The main topics approached by the HAO team were: companies’ focus on young adults with disabilities – a potential solution to solve, in part, the labour shortage issue; what does the supported employment process mean, and what are their advantages for the employer and for the employee; the oopportunities offered within the LEAD project to employers which integrate young adults with disabilities; the tax incentives offered by state to the employers who hire people with disabilities; the practical ways of accessing the subsidy of 2,250 lei granted to employers for each person with disabilities hired.
"In our country, only 8.2 per cent of adults with disabilities aged 18-64 (33.8 thousand people) work. Focusing on the County of Constanta, about 10,000 people with disabilities are registrated and only 10 per cent of them work. Why? Companies are still reluctant to engage in the supported employment process and hesitate to integrate people with disabilities. In addition, there are few organisations which provide support services for young adults with disabilities and the quality of these services is not always high", said Ms. Dobrescu.
"What do we do in the LEAD project? We have assumed the role of facilitator in the communication process between the potential employee coming from 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. The supported employment model differs from ordinary models of placement because it supports both the candidate and the employer", points out Mr. Nicolae Dobrescu, Executive Director of the Health Action Overseas Foundation (HAO), and the Manager of the LEAD project.
"Concerning the candidate, we offer services in fields like: vocational profiling, counseling for the growth self-confidence, skills development and training for employment, in-work and outside work support. Also, recruitment, pre-screening, training and support services at the workplace are provided free of charge for the business people which use our supported employment program. Moreover, we keep a permanent relationship with the employer in order to identify the problems which appear during the integration process and to solve them and we also work with the team members of whom the beneficiaries are part in order to help them communicate constructively with them. Last but not least, we provide to reprezentatives of the companies comprehensive information on: eligibility, rules and procedures to get the financial benefits offered to employers who integrate young adults with disabilities, as well as support in order to actually benefit by these advantages", explained Ms. Alina Dobrescu.
The participants at the event had the opportunity to find out from Mrs. Elisabeta Novac, the representative of the San Marco Pizzeria from Constanţa, how the supported employment process is perceived by an employer who has benefited by these kind of services within the LEAD project. This company gave a chance to Ştefan, aged 19, from a placement center from Constanta. Now, Ştefan is a kitchen assistant at San Marco Pizzeria. Ms. Novac pointed out that Ştefan's integration process was a success, so her firm wants to hire other young adults like him.
"Ştefan's case is not singular. 51 young adults with disabilities were enrolled in our database, since November 2018, when we organised the launching conference of the LEAD project. 31 of these 51 were vocationally profilled, 17 of them are looking for a job, with our specialists support, 9 of them were employed, and 3 of them have enrolled in professional qualification programs. We have worked with 43 companies from Constanta County and have already signed 7 partnership agreements with public institutions, in Constanta and Bucharest", said Ms. Cristina Şerbănescu, Communication Manager within the LEAD project.
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