Talking about the rights and duties of the worker on the occasion of May 1st isn’t trivial, but very useful to continue to raise awareness, remembering a day that has its roots in the past, and recalls the commitment of the trade union movements and the social and economic goals joined by the workers after long struggles.
However, our experience allows us to get to know a different world of work better, which still struggles today in Italy and in the world to guarantee equal rights and fairness for all. We are talking about the work of people with disabilities.
How does someone with a disability approach the world of work? Are companies in our Country and beyond ready to face and guarantee an inclusive and fair workplace?
We asked ourselves this in this article, referring to some data and reporting the direct experience of Daniele Regolo, founder of Jobmetoo, the digital e-recruiting platform that supports the entry into the world of work of people belonging to legally protected status.
Employment and disability today
Over a billion people, about 15% of the world population, live with a form of disability and about 110-190 million individuals are forced to face “very significant” difficulties in everyday life, as indicated by the WHO in the first World Report on Disability.
An even more important theme is their job opportunities.
In fact, in OECD area countries, the percentage of people with disabilities who have a job is 44%, compared to 75% of the able-bodied.
What are the reasons for this trend? What are the difficulties that hold back a company today from hiring people with disabilities?
Several issues are highlighted.
The first difficulty undoubtedly already starts at school, which in most cases fails to support people with disabilities until the end of their studies.
According to the recent UNICEF report “Seen, Counted, Included”, in fact, the number of children and adolescents with disabilities globally is estimated at almost 240 million.
Children with disabilities are 47% more likely to be out of primary school, 33% more likely to be in lower secondary and 27% more likely to be in upper secondary.
The accessibility of workplaces
This difficulty is also reflected in the world of work.
Overall data show that the percentages of people with disabilities who are in employment are lower for men (53%) and women with disabilities (20%) than for able-bodied men (65%) and women (30%).
Added to this is certainly a reduced accessibility to spaces and technologies: the work environment, in fact, is an important place of integration and inclusion, and intervening while guaranteeing its effective accessibility is essential to guarantee equal rights and autonomy for all.
In this regard, the UNI EN 17210 standard specifies the functional requirements of accessibility and usability of the work environment in line with an approach called “Design for all“. A European principle also intercepted in our country and reaffirmed in the PNRR and by the European Concept for Accessibility (ECA 2013) which works to guarantee social inclusion, equality and human evolution.
Disability and job in Italy: some data
To fully understand the phenomenon, and consequently implement effective measures to fill the existing gaps in terms of inclusiveness, it’s necessary to be able to use qualitatively and quantitatively adequate data.
These data are, or would be, the results of accurate monitoring, carried out by competent authorities in the field.
Unfortunately, until a few years ago, in Italy, this type of monitoring has never seen a real implementation, favoring sample-type monitoring which doesn’t return an exact picture of the phenomenon.
Today, with the development of Industry 4.0 – or 5.0, according to the most recent news on the subject – we should expect to see a deep change in the institutional and social fabric, both for a statistical necessity and for a consequent and more equitable allocation of resources by the institutions.
The topic is crucial for numerous reasons: mainly the placement of people with disabilities in the world of work returns beneficial effects to the person, who sees his or her dignity and autonomy effectively protected, both from a financial and relational point of view.
Furthermore, it also positively affects society, because the economic system would certainly benefit from the workforce and the unexpressed potential of people with disabilities.
Disability and job in Italy: the regulations
Speaking more specifically of the Italian legislation on the subject, laws aimed at promoting the employment of people with disabilities have been introduced.
An example is Law 68/99, which obliges companies that have between 15 and 50 employees to hire a person with a disability and the number increases together with the number of employees.
However, if it’s good to analyze the status quo and highlight how much more can be done on the subject, we would like to tell you about an example of an all-Italian virtuous experience, which actively contributes with their work to promoting a culture of inclusion in the world of work, not intended as an obligation, but rather as a choice and an added value.
We tell you the story of Jobmetoo.
The Jobmetoo experience
Knowing and telling the experience of Jobmetoo has allowed us to better understand what the needs of people with disabilities are looking for a job, because the company was born from the need to create job opportunities for people with disabilities, becoming a digital link between companies and candidates.
Founded by Daniele Regolo in 2012, Jobmetoo, is a real employment agency which, exploiting the potential of the network, deals with the search and selection of personnel and proposes, thanks to specialized professionals, corporate inclusion projects.
The Jobmetoo team is made up of people with disabilities, but not only, giving concrete proof of the value that integration in the company has.
How to register?
To join the network just a few clicks are enough: you register for free on the portal, fill in your cv, take a look on the notice board to look for open positions and send your application.
The placement results of this activity are amazing! In fact, 86% of the candidates’ selections are closed successfully. We can therefore say that the system that acts as a direct line between job seekers and companies works.
To find out more about the innovative project born as a startup, which today is part of the Openjobmetis group, the only employment agency listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, we interviewed the founder Daniele Regolo. He also faced the job placement difficulties common for a person with a disability, having a severe hearing impairment.
Here are the questions we asked him.
1. What was your first approach to the world of work?
More than an approach, it was a matter of multiple approaches to the world of work. I am referring to the fact that the set of jobs held after graduation couldn’t represent an organic path, leaving me, in fact, with little experience that could be used for my CV. We can say that I experienced first-hand, but we are talking about 25 years ago, all the critical issues of targeted placement. Today we can live and tell very different stories: not yet perfect, but decidedly better than in the past.
2. How was the Jobmetoo project born? What is your mission?
Jobmetoo, as a recruiting agency exclusively focused on people with disabilities, was born (we are around 2012) right on the ashes of those experiences that had brought me little or nothing in terms of professional growth: sports instructor, footwear accessories representative, editor of a private TV teletext, and much more. I tried to “detach” from the role of the candidate to imagine a service that responded to the real needs of companies.
We officially started in 2014 and in 2020 we were acquired by Openjobmetis, the only Employment Agency listed on the Italian Stock Exchange. We have always had the mission, and today even more so, of making the relationship between work and disability more and more “normal”. An inconspicuous goal, perhaps, but very effective in reality.
3. What are the future goals you intend to achieve?
Starting from our expertise on disability, we are extending our skills to all topics of Diversity & Inclusion, which today are deeply felt and participated in by companies, not just the larger ones. We like the idea of representing a “hub” around which the many skills that the different players have, but which they are not always able to exploit, center.
4. What virtuous behaviors should companies adopt towards people with disabilities? What gaps still need to be filled?
First, I think it is intellectually correct to dispel a myth: companies are not “insensitive”. They are made up of people, and therefore we can meet more attentive companies and others that are more superficial. I like to say that I’m still on the learning path. That said, the basis for evolution always passes through the spread of an inclusive culture and, above all, promoted with intelligence, because the risk of inflation is quite high. The biggest gaps have to be filled for everything concerning the career of workers with disabilities: in some cases, it is still a taboo.
5. What can each of us do, in a small way, to support your mission?
Disability affects about a billion people in the world: this is the impressive figure that the statistics give us. We are all inevitably affected by it, so we all have to approach disability by normalizing the relationship with this condition. As stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, we should no longer be interested in the impairment itself, but in the relationship that is generated between the person with disability and the environment around: breaking down all barriers, physical and cultural, should be our first thought to promote the self-determination of people who require independence and not assistance.