On 21 August, Austria’s DisAbility Business Forum hosted a press conference on employment and disability. Gregor Demblin, Founder of the social enterprise myAbility, and Johannes Kopf, board member of the federal Public Employment Service AMS, answered the key question: “Has the situation improved for job seekers with disabilities?”
“The past years have provided more opportunities for job seekers with disabilities,“ Gregor Demblin explained. “Career platforms like myAbility.jobs and awareness trainings for business leaders have made it easier. But there have to be structural changes before job seekers with disabilities will have the same opportunities as those without.” 10 years ago, Gregor Demblin and Wolfgang Kowatsch started the job platform Career Moves (now myAbility.jobs). In 2014 they founded myAbility, a social business consultancy that helps companies develop strategies for inclusiveness.
AMS board member Johannes Kopf said, „We currently have almost 3,300 job openings that specifically welcome candidates with disabilities. This is due to the awareness-raising work by myAbility and others. It also has to do with the current lack of skilled employees.”
But the labour market data show that people with disabilities still face great difficulties. The unemployment rate among people registered as disabled “begünstigt behindert” was 8,1% last year. However, only 56,3% of the people with registered disabilities were employed or self-employed; a lot lower than the general quota. Additionally, the majority of people with disabilities is not even registered as “begünstigt”. People with registered disabilities and health related hindrances comprise 24% of all unemployed Austrians.
“It is therefore particularly important to continue raising awareness”, said Gregor Demblin. He also saw a need for earlier funding of company inclusiveness measures at an information gathering stage. For job openings that target people with disabilities, he suggested putting into place an agency modelled on the British Remploy-System.