The employment integration of the disabled



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Some 3.5 million people in Spain have some kind of disability. The social integration of such people is a problem underlying the present context of our society, and although progress has been made in recent years in the design of integration policies, "normalisation" remains a long way off. With the publication of this volume, ”la Caixa” Foundation – which runs various social and educational programmes related with disability – wishes to help foster reflection upon and sensitivity towards the problems of integrating the disabled into employment. La inserción laboral de las personas con discapacidades [The Employment Integration of the Disabled]. By Colectivo Ioé(Carlos Pereda, Miguel Ángel de Prada and Walter Actis). ”la Caixa” Foundation Social Studies Collection (no. 14)- Social significance of the group in Spain: according to a survey carried out by the INE [National Statistics Institute] there are 3.5 million disabled people (9% of the overall population) in Spain. The problem affects one in three families, making the disabled one of the main target groups of social policy.- Differences from Europe: according to the EUROSTAT Households Panel, Spain ranks third of the EU's countries with fewest disabled people, after Italy and Greece, although the number increases with age at a much faster rate than the European average (see Chart 1). This is due to the fact that in Spain living and working conditions are more detrimental to health and lead to more serious accidents than in the rest of the European Union. Indeed, Spain is, on the one hand, among the European countries with highest workplace accident rates, most traffic accidents and most smokers, while on the other hand it is one of the countries that spends least per inhabitant on health.- Age and sex: disabilities increase with age (one-third of elderly people have some kind of disability) and from age 50 years onwards they affect women much more than men. This is due to the fact that women live longer and catch more disabling illnesses than men.- Disability and poverty: disability is three times more prevalent among low-income families than among families of higher purchasing power. This is because poor families live in less healthy surroundings and their members run a greater risk of catching illnesses and of suffering accidents, while at the same time they are able to devote fewer resources to prevention and/or rehabilitation.- Employment: Spain has the European Union's lowest rate of employment of disabled people and, together with Italy, is the country which most discriminates against women's access to employment. Among those of working age, only 31.5% of men and 15.8% of women are in paid employment. If we deduct people who are "unfit for work", the proportion of unemployed is 52% among men and 72% among women.- Most common jobs: in comparison with other workers, employed persons with disabilities are more often found in unskilled occupations (non-specialised workers, personal services, catering and shops) and less often in those requiring higher qualifications (executives, professionals and skilled workers). One in three women and one in five men have temporary employment contracts.- Causes of unemployment: in addition to the general unemployment situation, in which young people, women, those with no school qualifications and inhabitants of regions such as Andalusia and Extremadura come off worst, 27% stress as the main cause of unemployment the discrimination and stigma they suffer precisely because of "being disabled". - Association membership: while many specific associations exist for this group, only 7.5% of the disabled are members of such associations. The proportion rises among men compared with women, and is higher among young people than among adults. Association membership is very much higher among those holding disability certificates (17%) than those who do not (2%). ”la Caixa” Foundation and its disability programme”la Caixa” Foundation's work to help the disabled goes back to the origins of the ”la Caixa” Social Work programme, which at the beginning of the last century undertook initiatives such as the Catalan Institute for the Blind and the Educational Institute for Deaf-and-Dumb and Blind Women.The Foundation organises two competitions for grants aimed at Spanish non-profit entities engaged in social-attention projects for the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill, and for the employment integration of the physically, psychically, sensorially and mentally disabled. Since 2001, when the first invitation was issued (Grants for Projects for the Mentally Disabled), the Foundation has collaborated with 668 initiatives that applied in answer to both competitions.The "Able Friends" programme, the Educalia – one of ”la Caixa” Foundation's web sites – activity, aims to acquaint boys and girls with the situation experienced by children with some kind of disability.We might highlight, finally, a social volunteers initiative being implemented in the computing rooms of ”la Caixa” Foundation's own centres for senior citizens and under agreements with the various tiers of government. In this case, senior citizens teach computer workshops to young disabled persons.Electronic edition available on the Internet: