Youth With Disabilities & Labour Market

Age has a great influence on a person’s employability. Many researchers studying the transition of young people to adulthood say that the key moment of this process is a transfer from education to the labour market. Youth with disabilities face similar challenges to the majority of young people leaving compulsory education and making their way on the labour market, but they are also dealing with additional barriers. The barriers do not only include architectural ones — they are also created by societal attitudes, stereotypes that can transform into direct and indirect discrimination, lower qualifications and skills and the lack of appropriate and coordinated systems to support labour market participation (1).

Youth with disabilities is a group that requires complex support on an institutional level, starting from appropriate medical care, through adjustments during education, psychological help and support in individual shaping the educational and professional path. Education plays a very important role in individuals’ career development and though positive changes have been made in this field in the past two decades, there are still many obstacles that limit satisfying educational and professional aspirations of young people. These are lack of proper guidance and counselling on the choice of educational and career paths as well as poor adjustments made for the increasing number of youth with disabilities in higher education (2). On the level of secondary education the choice of suitable employment path is vital for the individuals in determining their future activity in the labour market. When it comes to transition from education to work it is important to remember that this process must be supported by policy measures, needs to respect personal choices of the young person and requires cooperation between schools and the labour market. Delaying career entry after finishing education lowers chances of youth with disabilities in successful transition to work life. According to the report about the social and professional situation of youth with disabilities in Poland, it is a group with persistently high level of unemployment — the data say that 80% of people with disabilities do not work and do not seek employment, whereas in the age group of 25-29 only 1 in 4 people have a job. The report also draws attention to the factor that inhibits their professional activity — fear of losing or suspending social pensions, resulting in not taking the job or working in low-paid jobs (3).

Changing society’s attitude towards disability, as well as spreading awareness among people with disabilities about their rights and improving ways of supporting this group is  essential in integrating them in the labour market. For example, social model of disability sees society as the factor that disables people by designing everything to meet the needs of the majority of people who are not disabled. It emphasizes that society can reduce and remove the barriers and is also more inclusive in approach (4). It can contribute to improving education and employment policies which could give them an opportunity to lead comfortable and independent lives and participate in numerous activities on an equal basis with others.


  1. Eurofund, Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems. Background paper, p.1
  2. E. Giermanowska, Bariery aktywności zawodowej młodzieży z niepełnosprawnościami w świetle badań, [w:] Polityka społeczna 2012
  3. I.Raszeja-Ossowska, Młodzi – niepełnosprawni. Sytuacja społeczna i zawodowa, Fundacja Pomocy Matematykom i Informatykom Niepełnosprawnym Ruchowo, p.17
  4. [access 26.04.2021]

Written by Fundacja Rozwoju Demokracji Lokalnej


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