for development of best practices in Bulgaria and Italy

Employment ofpersonswith disabilitiesin Bulgariais a national priority that requires sustained political and public attention as well as maximum of coordination of policies relating to it.

Employment opportunities for persons with disabilitiesare mainly regulated under the LawforEmployment Promotion (LEP) andtheLaw on Integration of Persons with Disabilities (LIPD).

According to data from the National Social Security Institute and the National Statistical Institute, the number of persons with disabilities of working age is about 200 000 and about 10% of them are working in various spheres of public life. According to data from the National Employment Agency (NEA), in 2011 the number of persons with disabilities actively seeking work was 13 617, which is about 4% of the total number of registered unemployed.

The highest share in the occupational structure of unemployed persons with permanent disabilities are persons with no qualification and profession – 42.9%, and the highest share in the educational structure are those with secondary special and vocational education – 41.7%. The unemployment growth, structural changes in economy etc. intensified the problems of persons with disabilities and in many cases reduced the opportunities of their relatives to take adequate care of them.

 As is evident from above statements, very small percentage of persons with permanent disabilities had the chance to find their realization in the labour market. The reasons are many and varied in nature. Some important ones are:

  • social isolation and lack of motivation;
  • iInadequate attitude of employers towards this target group;
  • insecure access to the workplace;
  • lack of appropriate working environment tailored to the specific needs of persons with disabilities;
  • low public awareness;
  • low qualification.

Access to the labour market is largely dependent on the qualifications acquired through vocational training. It can only initiate after the acquisition of educational minimum. This means that for persons with disabilities to participate more actively in the labour market, they primarily need a more secure access to education.In Bulgaria, the occupational training of students with disabilities is realised within the system of existing special schools or in several specialized training centre for persons with visual or hearing disabilities. We know that training in special schools offer a very limited choice of occupations; it is of low level and fails to meet the requirements of the labour market.

 Accessible information and communication environment

An important element in the lives of persons with disabilities is their awareness and communication facilities, depending on their disability. Information should be provided in accessible forms – display of text, text dubbing, subtitling, Braille, sign language and sign dubbing, voice dubbing, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader, augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of information available.

Vocational rehabilitation

Creation and maintenance of jobs for persons with disabilities, adaption of the jobs and equipment to the psychophysiological and anthropometric characteristics of persons with disabilities; provision of healthy and safe conditions at work on the one hand and on the other, improvement of the occupational skills and qualification of persons with disabilities. Rehabilitation should include persons with mental disabilities; in view of ensure the production quality, successful involvement in the market and expansion of the employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The provision of access to employment forpersonswith disabilitiesshall be a complex and difficult task, but is best realised by worker producers’ cooperativesofpersons with disabilities. The specifics ofgovernance, theformofownership, activesocialpolicy, and integrated approach are only a part of the arguments of best practices implemented by BulgarianTPKIs.

In Italy there are social cooperatives providing social services such as childcare, care for elderly persons and persons with disabilities, and inclusion of unemployed persons into the labour force. This type of cooperativewe can see mostly in Italy, but it exists in various forms in many other countries. In countries like Sweden and the UK, they exist with no special legislation and elements of the Italian model underlie the regulations in Belgium and Poland.

The Italian social cooperative is a particularly successful form of cooperative of multiple stakeholders. The main law regulating social enterprises is “381/91: Le cooperative social di typo A e B”, which defines the following options:

  • a socialcooperativeof type „А” shall unitethe providersandrecipients ofa socialservice as members;
  • a social cooperative of type „B”shall unite permanent workers and previously unemployed persons who wish to integrate into the labour market.

The cooperatives of type“А”provide health socialor educational services and the ones of type “B” integrate disadvantaged persons into the labour market. The disadvantaged persons are with physical and mental disabilities, impaireddevelopment, addiction to drugsandalcohol, law infringements. They shall not cover such factors as race, sexual orientation or misuse. The various categories of stakeholder may becomemembers,inclusive paid employees, beneficiaries, volunteers (up to 50 % of themembers), financialinvestorsandpublic institutions. Tocooperativesof type “B”, at least 30% of the members should come from disadvantaged target groups.A cooperative is a legal entity of limited liability; voting principle is “one person, one vote”. Not more than 80% of the profits may be utilised; the capital interests of the members shall be limited to the amount of the share payment and they shall be of altruistic nature (assets are indivisible – in case of liquidation they shall not be distributed).

According to ISTAT, by the end of 2001, there existed in Italy 7,100 social cooperatives with 267,000 members, 223,000 paid employees, 31,000 volunteers and 24,000 disadvantaged persons – the subject of integration. The total turnover was around 5 billion. Homology of social cooperatives in Italy is approximately as follows: 59% of type “A” (social and health services), 33% of type “B” (work integration) and 8% are mixed ones. The average number of members is 30 workers.

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