We are launching a 3-year project dedicated to social inclusion and employability for people with disability in Bulgaria, Netherlands, Slovenia, Denmark, Portugal, Italy and Lithuania. And this time the approach is different. Do read on to find out – and get in touch if interested for yourself or for someone you know.

Unemployment levels of people with disability are notably – and consistently – higher than of the general population. Eurostat reports a huge 20-points gap between the employment rate of people with and without a disability, with less than half (47%) of people with a disability being employed.

In spite of many active labour measures and support strategies and programmes, disability remains a key driver for unemployment, and in many cases leads to discouragement from seeking employment, which in turn leads to de-qualification, loss of financial independence and increased reliance on carers and social services.

In our work with people with disabilities on a number of projects, we found that a common and shared property among members of the target group is talent development, often unconscious or unintended. In some cases this is result of active involvement by occupational therapist (e.g. using art to train fine motor skills), in others – formally or informally developed employable skills (e.g. computer design, language mastery/translation skills, etc.) or art-related creative skills.

With Skillability we intend to address the low employment rates, encourage use of talents, promote entrepreneurship and creativity, suggest alternative path to financial independence, improve social and digital skills, open learning and qualification pathways. It is important that we bring much needed training opportunities to the people who need it, and also provide the needed solid support infrastructure for training needs analysis and designing of individual learning pathways and personal employment/entrepreneurship targets.

Working from home is one of the solutions which allows people with disability to be productive members of the labour force without having to deal with often hostile physical environment. Skillability’s digital platform will function as formal workplace.

Our principal focus are people with disability who have already developed some artistic talent or employable skills, and who are willing to build upon their current skills, qualification and talent, and want to offer their skills and talent to customers and clients, without the hindrance of physical obstacles of distance. This profile will be considered in an extended from, given its the specific nature, to include family members and caregivers, as they are a vital part of the success of any integration measure. We recognise that the people we have designed the project for are not an integral and monolithic group – there are significant differences in the participating countries with regard to their employment and social systems, and the level of integration. We will consider such differences when we design the methodology, the communication strategies, and the difficulty level of the digital training courses. Those differences will provide us with important insight and will contribute to the know-how exchange within the partnership.

Our preliminary studies and surveys have indicated the following areas of skills and talent which may be served by the project, but we will be considering others as well:

  • Applied Arts and Crafts (incl. offering individual lessons/workshops): Drawing, Painting, Illustration; Photography, Graphic Design, Video; Pottery, Woodwork, Metalwork; Jewellery; Other applied art
  • Computers and Web: Text/Data entry; Copywriting; Website design; Website maintenance (software, content); Web content (authoring); Social media content/account maintenance; Translation
  • Food and Catering: Baking and Confectionery (incl. lessons); Food preparation (incl. lessons); Clothing and Design

Our approach consists of developing and launching a specialised Skillability marketplace platform where people with different disabilities can announce, demonstrate and showcase their talents and skills. They will be matched on the platform to an audience of people who are in need, or are prepared to support, the Skillability platform members, by contracting their work. We will work with a comprehensive approach including sending out information about the initiative, recruitment of members, designing a methodology for assessment of their education and training needs, and developing digital learning resources to satisfy those needs on the platform itself, in a seamless integration of the platform’s two main functions.

Follow us if you are interested in this project for yourself or for someone you know. Or connect directly with our partner organisations in your country – we’ll be happy to hear from you!

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