The Caravan “Transition from school to work, dissemination of good practices of work inclusion of people with disabilities” took place in April in three regions of the Republic of Moldova. The intention of the event was to facilitate communication between key actors in the field of career counseling and guidance and to reflect good practices and challenges. Two hundred and eleven people from 36 districts of the country participated at the events: employers, people with disabilities, career guidance centers, psycho-pedagogical assistance services, employment agencies, local decision makers, CSOs, etc.
The events were an opportunity for people with disabilities to make their voices heard and to share their opinions on work inclusion: “To achieve the inclusion of people with disabilities, it is not enough to say, ‘I want!’ or ‘You must!’ People with disabilities should stop victimizing themselves. Employers should no longer be afraid to hire people with disabilities. And society needs to learn that people with disabilities exist,” said a person with disabilities who is employed. On the path from school inclusion to career guidance and counseling to labor intermediation to employment, it is important for the persons to understand what they can do, what they like to do and what jobs are required by society, said people with disabilities.
For young people with disabilities, informal sources, like family and friends, play a key role in choosing a profession, getting informed about the labor market and identifying a job. “I understand that it is POSSIBLE! Our children can be employed in the future; they need only to be properly guided. Also, for a child with disabilities, and for their family, it is important to have cooperation between social services, medical services, and educational services. These services are usually provided separately,” said a parent of a person with disability. Parents of people with disabilities shared their experiences on the role of parents and young people with disabilities in increasing opportunities for work inclusion.
Whereas the career guidance of children with disabilities should start as early as possible, it is within the competence of teachers to create an environment in which the child can grow. “Disability is not an obstacle to professional development. It is important that the person has the desire and the support they need. Collaboration between teachers, parents, and psychologists matters in the educational inclusion of children with disabilities. Without partnership, we cannot really do anything,” mentioned a teacher.
“Every person has a certain potential. This potential must be valued so that the person becomes autonomous and financially independent,” said the representatives of the Employment Agencies. Their role is to find a suitable job for people with disabilities, to provide career guidance and counseling, and labor intermediation. “The hardest part is convincing the employer to hire a person with a disability,” they said.
Participants at the Caravan brought positive examples of employment of people with disabilities, reasonable accommodation, and effective communication with employers: “When we want to help a person to get hired, communication is the key – communication with the employer, but also communication with the person with disabilities. Because sometimes there can be a problem, and this problem must be detected and solved,” said a representative of the Social Assistance Department.
Currently, in the Republic of Moldova less than 5% of people with disabilities are employed. However, there are employment opportunities for young people with disabilities, career counseling and guidance services, employment support services they can access. “I am employed on a contract basis. I really like that I work, that I have a salary… I am proud of my job. My colleagues respect me,” said an employee with disabilities.
The caravan from school to work was also organized in Iasi County, Romania. “Close to You” Romania Foundation, partners with Keystone Moldova, organized two events, which highlighted the successful practices regarding the work inclusion of people with disabilities.
The activity took place within the Project “Cross-border partnership for inclusive career guidance” (2SOFT / 1.1 / 145), implemented by Keystone Moldova in partnership with “Close to You” Romania Foundation, financed by European Union through the Joint Operational Programme Romania–Republic of Moldova 2014-2020, through European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI).
For more information about the Project, please see: https://www.keystonemoldova.md/en/projects/cross-border-parternship-inclusive-career-guidance/