The labour market in Europe is changing. Employers are placing increasing demands on their employees. Lifelong learning is now a top priority concept in the EU. At the same time CEDEFOP forecasts point towards a reduction in the number of low-skilled jobs in the European economy in the years to come. Most employment analyses are based on general indicators and give only limited consideration to less-privileged groups. The Europe 2020 headline target of an overall employment rate of 75% could theoretically be achieved even with some less-privileged groups having extremely low employment rates, as there are no subgroup-specific targets. The low-skilled jobs that are available are in many cases occupied by immigrants who tend to outcompete other less-privileged groups here.
For people with intellectual impairment or relational problems it is often difficult, if not impossible, to find a job on the open labour market, despite the well-meaning political discourse, existing programmes, financial support and so on.
The key question is whether we in Europe are able to offer these people real labour market participation, and not just passive forms of very meagre social assistance, paid out during their entire adult lifetime – about 60 years on average. If the latter is not acceptable, we have to find solutions. And this is the aim of the conference. The ambition is to launch a public debate on the labour market position and perspectives of these people, whether or not they are recognised as disabled under national law. In a nutshell: how can we really improve their access to jobs? The European Economic and Social Committee hopes that the other EU institutions will pick up on the results of the conference and join the EESC in its efforts to find real solutions to improve the labour market position of people with intellectual impairment or relational problems.
9:30 - 16:45, EESC premises, Rue Belliard 99 - 1040 Bruxelles, meeting room JDE 62 (6th floor)