Supported employment- viable solution for the sustainable integration of people with disabilities in the labour market and into society

On the 26thof January, Health Action Overseas Romania Foundation organised in Constanta the closing conference of the transnational project “Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD”, co-funded by the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.

The attendence list of the event included: beneficiaries of the project; representatives of General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection – Constanta, the Constanta County School Inspectorate, the School Center for Inclusive Education “Albatros”, and of other non-governmental organisations; public and private providers of educational, social and employment services; human resources specialists from organisations and companies interested in assuring an inclusive work environment; journalists.

“Since 2018, we have provided Supported Employment services, based on the EUSE (European Union of Supported Employment) model. In these years, we have achieved significant results both quantitative and qualitatively. These results prove that the Supported Employment model works regardless of the company’s size, the field of activity, or the disability of the beneficiary. I am happy to say that our young beneficiaries have managed to get suitable jobs and keep them for the long term, to evolve, and to become respected members of the community, with adequate support, provided by our team”, pointed out Nicolae Dobrescu, Executive Director of HAO and Manager of the project.

Romania has an huge need for support services for people with disabilities. The number of adults with disabilities increased by 40,000 people, to 890,000, compared to 2017, and only 11% of them works, according to the official data.”I think that wide spread of the Supported Employment, a model based on a partnership strategy between the employee, the employer and the employment service provider, is a solution that must be seriously considered”, said Nicolae Dobrescu in this context.

“We did not seek to have as many beneficiaries as possible enrolled in the project; we focused on the quality of services provided by our team.The Supported Employment process is expensive and time-consuming. People with disabilities have complex needs, so we have worked hard in order to have young adults who keep their jobs for a long time, who become well-integrated, and who live an independent life. At the same time, we have developed long-term relationships, based on mutual respect, with the employers we work with”, explained Alina Dobrescu, Coordinator of the Supported Employment Programme.

A special section was dedicated to the success stories. For example, the participants had the opportunity to meet Ștefan, full-time employee with Pizzeria San Marco in Constanța, and to find out from Elisabeta Novac, the representative of the mentioned company, how the Supported Employment process is perceived by an employer who has collaborated with our team since 2018. “Ștefan was the first young man hired thanks to the HAO team. He still works with us. He is a valuable member of our team, as the other six young adults with disabilities employed with the support of the HAO team”, said Elisabeta Novac.

“Initially, we hired two young adults with disabilities, and then, we employed another two. We enjoy their presence. They changed the way we see things”, said Claudiu Fati, the representative of the Dacris, and an old collaborator of HAO.

The speeches delivered by Teodor and Desanca (twoyoung adults with disabilities enrolled in LEAD project) were very well received by the public. Our beneficiaries told them how they changed their lives with support provided by our colleagues.

The issue of Supported Employment will remain on the agenda of the HAO team. Within a transnational project, we will be involved in the development of a training program for Supported Employment specialists, in order to help them work constructively with employers.

The project “Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.

Cristina Șerbănescu


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