The COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant global health crisis and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War II. In Portugal, similar to most European countries, the Government has implemented restrictive measures, including: leaving the home for good reasons only, closing schools, limiting meetings, closing non-essential activities, and work from home, where it was possible. After 8 months of COVID-19, in Portugal it can be noticed that the pandemic had an enormous negative impact on health, economy and society, in local communities, but also at the national level, causing significant political and social disruption.
Regarding the implementation of the LEAD project, the pandemic has naturally slowed the pace of the youth employment process, despite the alternative approaches adopted by our colleagues from Consultis. Given this unfavorable overall employment situation, the LEAD team in Portugal is pleased with the results. Thus, on the 31stOctober 2020, 95 young Portuguese adults with disabilities looking for a job were registered as beneficiaries of the LEAD project and involved in the employment programme. From these, 35 are involved in the Supported Employment program, and 12 are already employed. Concerning the employers with whom they collaborate, the Consultis team works excellently with Sr. Bicho and Barreiro City Hall.
In recent months, our colleagues from Portugal have continued to organise experience exchanges between young adults with disabilities looking for a job and potential employers. Thus, from June to September, four such meetings took place in Moita and Barreiro. These events facilitated interactions, and built natural relationships between employers and potential employees, in order to increase employment opportunities for young adults with disabilities. Eight employers and 20 young people attended these meetings.
The Consultis team considers that the activity of spreading informationabout the Supported Employment methodology, its advantages, and implications is particularly relevant within the scope of the LEAD project.
In this context, both Portuguese Centres – The Centre of Resources in Supported Employment, and The Centre of Supported Employment Services – deliver consultancy and information to employers and human resources specialists to raise awareness on general issues concerning disability at the workplace. Up to October 31st, 46 organizations / companies from different regions of Portugal (from the Porto metropolitan area to the Centre and South Regions) have benefited from consultancy services on this topic, provided by Consultis specialists. In parallel, the LEAD partner from Portugal developed a training package, which benefited 12 employers in September. The purpose of this training was to enable employers to include young adults with disabilities in their teams, as employees.
At the same time, the process of expanding the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers continued. This Network was created in February 2019 in order to facilitate the implementation of the Supported Employment methodology throughout the country and to ensure the exchange of information between professionals in the field. According to our colleagues from Consultis, so far, 24 organizations from different regions of Portugal have joined the National Network.
The Portuguese LEAD team has been informing the representatives of public authorities and the members of the civil society about the role of the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers in order to raise the level of community awareness on Supported Employment services and to demonstrate that young adults with disabilities are able and are willing to work. Until October 31st, 2020, 59 representatives of public authorities and 3,354 members of the civil society: young adults with disabilities, members of their families, employers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, VET and CVET centres representatives were informed about the opportunities offered by the LEAD project and the action of the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers. Our colleagues also highlight the articulation with the five Regional Delegations of the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth and the five Regional Delegations of the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training, in order to raise awareness on the issue of disability.