The National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers was established in Lithuania, in 2019, within the LEAD project, by the Valakupiai Rehabilitation Centre (VRC), in order to increase the quality of employment services, and to influence through argument, data and facts public policies, especially in the field of inclusion of young adults with disabilities in the labour market.
Since then, more and more public, and private employment service providers have enrolled in this Network. In this issue, our colleagues proudly present the Employment Service, under the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour. This institution has a dual role: to help jobseekers get hired as quickly as possible and to support companies in order to identify the right employees.
People with disabilities benefit from supported employment services by getting a job and / or by being integrated into new teams. In this way specialised services are provided in order to facilitate communication between the company representative and the person with disabilities looking for a job. This support is offered by request, free of charge, for up to 8 hours to the employer. Also, free support is provided at the workplace (maximum 12 months from the employment’s date), in order to solve any problems that may put in danger job retention, at the request of the employer or of the new employee.
Moreover, the Employment Service provides information, counselling and recruitment services to employers who want to integrate a person with disabilities. Additionally, the mentioned institution provides employment services (subsidised employment and support for the acquisition of work skills), and support for job creation.
According to VRC, in 2020, 15,217 people with disabilities looking for a job (5.5 per cent of all registred jobseekers) turned to the services offered by the institution. Last year, 5,778 people with disabilities were employed, 1,438 benefited from active measures on the labour market, and 1,454 started operating under a business license. On January 1, 2021, the Employment Services registred 19,419 people with disabilities looking for a job.
In addition to working with the other supported employment service providers, our colleagues have made efforts in order to develop collaborative relationships, based on trust, with the representatives of the business community who show openness for the integration of people with disabilities.
For example, Rimi Lietuva is the ambassador of the “Lithuanian Diversity Charter”. The company has been operating in retail since 2000. Currently, the Rimi Lietuva has 71 Rimi stores, namely: Rimi Hyper (large supermarkets for weekly shopping), Rimi Super (supermarkets for everyday shopping), Rimi Mini (convenience stores), and Rimi Express (small snack shops), and has approximately 3,300 employees. For more than thirteen years, Rimi has been running a program for the integration of people with disabilities. Today, about 150 employees with disabilities work both in the company’s office and in its stores. When employing people with disabilities, the company does not take advantage of state subsidies and each new Rimi store is adapted for employees and customers with disabilities.
DSP Plius, a company specialising in the wholesale and retail trade, is another good partner of VRC. The management of this company encourages diversity in the workplace. Five years ago, the manager of DSP Plius decided to hire people with disabilities. A few years later, she started collaborating with the VRC team, within the LEAD project. The result was great: DSP Plius offered a job with high qualification requirements to a young adult with reduced mobility, who is still working in this company to this day. As an office manager at DSP Plius, he translates product descriptions, certificates, declarations from English, manages the website and Facebook page, and answers customer inquiries and letters. The company’s management made the necessary adaptations to the workplace without any help from the state.
Our colleagues are very proud of their work with young adults with disabilities in order to offer them a better life, regardless of age or education level. In the following, we will give you only three examples from what could have been many.
Onutė is a school child who loves animals very much. In order to test her skills, the supported employment specialist of VRC offered her the opportunity to work as a volunteer in an animal shelter. Our colleague is proud to say that Onutė performed very well the tasks assigned to her.
Although Birutė is a graduate of the Faculty of Philology, she had difficulty in finding a job in the field. In order to gain experience and self-confidence, she accepted the proposal of a VRC specialist to volunteer at the National Library “Martynas Mažvydas”, the largest library in Lithuania. With support of our specialist and the library staff, Birutė was able to perform her duties and interact appropriately with readers.
Finally, another young man, a recent graduate with no work experience, benefited from the opportunity to be quickly hired by Rent-tex, in the field of cleaning, with the support of the VRC team.
These examples eloquently demonstrate that young adults with disabilities have the chance to highlight their qualities and start working, with adequate support.