ACTION TAKEN BY ITALIA LAVORO CONCERNING INCLUSION OF DISABLED PEOPLE IN THE WORKPLACE
Within the programmes which Italia Lavoro carries out to create new, improved employment opportunities, the need to take action aimed at developing working, information and training tools that encourage the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace is becoming ever more urgent.
The demand for jobs which match expectations, professional skills and working abilities has become increasingly evident alongside the development of a culture, which views the fact that disabled people can fully enjoy the social aspects of their lives, as “normal”.
Today approximately 500,000 disabled people in Italy are registered on a specific list of job seekers.
Moreover, the lawmakers have taken into account this aspiration when drawing up a legislative framework whose focal point is Law No. 68/1999. This law aims to promote a series of approaches and activities whose goal is to place “the right person in the right job” by making known the innovative concept of “targeted employment”.
Therefore, to coincide with the European Year of People with Disabilities, Italia Lavoro planned to launch a specific sector dealing with the development of activities to include disabled people in the workplace.
The strategic objectives set are as follows:
- To make known inside Italia Lavoro the skills needed to tackle the issue of including disabled people in the workplace, with particular focus on the development of ongoing integration between the various system activities promoted by the company and a close working relationship between the head office and territorial units.
- To encourage the growth of the national employment services network by improving the quality of services provided to the disabled and to businesses and by carrying out training, refresher and support schemes for operators.
- To involve the institutions, local authorities, targeted employment offices, disabled associations, enterprise organisations and various bodies and organisations throughout the country that handle disabled issues in a network which encourages the exchange and transfer of good practices and the launch of innovative services to improve the quantity and quality of inclusion in the workplace.
- To launch inclusion initiatives aimed at ensuring the complete satisfaction of workers and businesses, with particular regard to people with serious disabilities and those that experience most difficulties in accessing the world of work.
A working methodology (Figures 1-2) was developed to achieve said objectives which is based on the use of a model characterised by the “transfer of knowledge and solutions”.
The good practices singled out at a provincial level are carefully gathered together, analysed and made available to the services concerned.
Various means are used to diffuse said practices ranging from Italia Lavoro’s IT platform to participation in seminars and conferences and organisation of training programmes.
However the preferred instrument for transferring good practices is project action coordinated by Italia Lavoro which makes it possible to carry out experimental activities aimed at checking solution applicability in specific areas and possible changes while work is in progress, as well as imparting skills and knowledge.
All action is carried out with the direct involvement of the territory and in particular the organisations for the disabled and enterprise organisations.
From a working point of view, the following main stages can be identified:
- Monitoring and analysis at a national and international level of the good practices regarding targeted employment of the disabled
- Creation of models and tools
- Carrying out of testing initiatives
- Development of a databank containing solutions, models and tools
- Application of solutions to Italia Lavoro activities or by drawing up partnership agreements with provincial employment services based on individual needs
- Planning of activities
- Performance of activities
- Training of employment executives and operators
- Monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of activities
- Adjustment and implementation of tools and solutions based on the experience acquired
Italia Lavoro staff training
Work methodology diagrams
Said methodological approach ensures considerable flexibility of action, ongoing expansion of the solution databank and fine-tuning of the tools used.
Some working tools have been created to rationalise the organisation of activities.
Firstly, a Employment Services Analysis Card, has been prepared which takes into consideration the obligations provided for by law, critical aspects regarding their fulfilment and the key questions needed to assess the conditions of the employment centre in question and point out any possible needs.
The “Design guide lines for the area of disabilities ” is another tool which aims to provide ideas for planning and implementing the procedures needed to ensure the targeted employment of disabled people.
Focus is placed on the following main areas:
- The employment centre’s mission and strategic positioning
- The role of organisations in support of obligatory employment and their decentralisation throughout the country.
- The territorial network (social care organisations, enterprise associations, disabled associations, training centres, etc.)
- Promotion of employment centres with regard to the services offered to the disabled and businesses
- Management software and forms (administrative paperwork, personal information forms, matching of labour supply and demand, etc.)
- List updating
- Overcoming architectural barriers and communication
- Action targeting the disabled (awareness building, hospitality, guidance, skills portfolio, etc.)
- Action targeting businesses (awareness building, presentation of information, working model for inclusion in the workplace, agreements, facilities, on site monitoring of the disabled person, etc.).
- Matching of labour supply and demand
- Training and support for employment centre operators
- Active policies for targeted employment
A Hypertext Guide to Law No. 68/99 has also been compiled and can be viewed on the SPINN programme website. Said guide offers readers all the information needed in order to become familiar with application of the legislation in question.
A set of Technical Info Cards will also be prepared which will provide basic information about all the issues related to application of the law (acknowledgement of invalidity, architectural barriers, social cooperation, training, apprenticeships, teleworking, categories of aids, enterprise support, etc.).
Some specific forms have been created for use in recording workers and businesses’ personal and company details, job characteristics and for on site monitoring of workers.
Guides are provided to explain the use of all these tools.
Projects for the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace
The action and projects started up over one working year focus on some specific areas of activity such as:
- Design of targeted employment services
- Exchanges with the aim of transferring good practices
- On site testing
- Training schemes for Italia Lavoro staff members and employment centre operators
- Athlete re-training projects
- Creation of tools and products
- Planning of complex activities
With regard to the design of targeted employment services, a set of key activities have been carried out in the province of Naples which, from an highly complex point of departure, are resulting in the compilation of the first targeted employment list.
Important projects to set up targeted employment offices have also been drawn up for the provinces of Taranto, Brindisi, Foggia and Benevento.
Contacts have been established with the provinces of Rieti and Agrigento.
Guidelines for activities targeting businesses have been put together for the provinces of Ancona and Bari.
The exchange activities involving the provinces of Naples and Reggio Emilia, which focus on relations between employment centres and local health authorities with regard to checking the disabilities of those belonging to the targeted employment list, are of particular interest.
The exchange programme involving the provinces of Treviso, Milan, Varese, Rieti, Udine and Belluno, which comprises analysis of all the more complex issues connected to Law No. 68/99’s obligations through a series of meetings, is also of great importance.
As far as testing is concerned, the “functional help desk” project, which will be introduced in some provinces within the Veneto region, is ready to be launched.
The project’s targets include immigrants, women and over-45s as well as the disabled.
With regard to “internal” training, some activities for the staff of all Italia Lavoro’s territorial units have been carried out which looked at disability issues, the meaning of Law No. 68/99, application of said law and design of targeted employment services.
As far as “external” training is concerned, a course for employment centre operators in Calabria has recently been organised together with ASPHI and IBM.
Within the Sport 2Job project, particular attention has been paid to the re-training of disabled athletes.
Project activities which allow for the participation of disabled athletes have been planned together with the Italian Disabled Sports Federation (FISD).
The training programmes also include some references to hospitality and organisation of services for disabled people.
Study of tools and products for implementing targeted employment is going ahead at the same pace as the development of project activities.
Personal information cards and working guides are constantly updated in relation to the results obtained from on-site testing.
Lastly there are the more complex projects.
The first one called “ICF and Labour Policies”, sponsored by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and coordinated by Italia Lavoro together with DIN Disability Italian Network, looks at diffusion of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
The first phase of the project provides for awareness building activities for institutional roles and advanced training for operators involved in the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace (employment centre operators, members of the local health authorities’ commissions to verify disabilities, corporate tutors, etc.).
Therefore testing will be carried out at some employment centres with the aim of experimenting and assessing the effectiveness of the tools introduced.
This project is of great scientific and social interest given the effects that it may have on establishing new criteria to assess the working abilities of disabled people.
The second project is currently being drawn up and will include a series of activities aimed at encouraging the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace with regard to services to be introduced for the Turin Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2006.
2003 was not a year of disability-related celebrations for Italia Lavoro, but a year focusing on the setting up of a structure able to successfully deal with the world of work’s needs.
Therefore the European Year of People with Disabilities was neither a goal nor an opportunity for reflection, but rather the point of departure for a series of activities aimed at developing the employment services system with regard to the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace which will be expanded in the years to come.