The labour market and disability
High employment is a cornerstone of the Nordic welfare model. Everyone should have the opportunity to get a job. But today, people with disabilities, chronic diseases and mental ill health have a lower employment rate than the average in the Nordic region.
The Nordic welfare systems are similar, and we have had a common Nordic labour market for over 60 years. The Nordic countries also have very similar problems and similar figures in terms of employment for people with disabilities. There is therefore a need for a common Nordic perspective on these issues.
A large proportion of young people and adults with disabilities are outside the workplace in the Nordic region. Even people with disabilities that do not necessarily involve a reduced working capacity find it more difficult to find a job than people without disabilities. In order to improve access to the labour market and workplaces, all the Nordic countries have for decades had a host of labour market and social policy measures and programmes for inclusion.
There are also clear differences between the genders. More men than women with disabilities are in work. The difference also applies to younger women and men with disabilities, despite the fact that more young women than men with disabilities have an academic education.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in particular Article 27, and the sustainable development goals set out in Agenda 2030, in particular goal 8, oblige countries to even out these disparities and create a labour market in which more people are given the right conditions to participate.
All of the five Nordic countries, plus the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland, have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In other words, the Convention constitutes a common basis for the disability policy of the Nordic countries and an obligation that they have all undertaken to observe.
The mission of the Nordic Welfare Centre is to support and strengthen work by the countries on the national implementation and monitoring of the UN Convention – to develop summaries of knowledge, create arenas and create networks across countries and sectors. Article 27 of the UN Convention states that countries should prohibit discrimination, actively promote job opportunities for people with disabilities and promote adaptation. A more inclusive Nordic labour market is highlighted in the Nordic action plan for cooperation on disability and in the Nordic co-operation programme for working life.
In this area we have, among other things, produced reports and organised conferences and expert seminars.
The Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation programme for working life 2018-22 contains several focus areas with a bearing on the inclusion of people with disabilities. These include:
- Increase participation in the labour market, especially in vulnerable groups
- Improve the working environment by such means as by preventing work-related illnesses and injuries
- Strengthen establishment and integration, as well as gender equality and mobility in the Nordic labour market
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