Working with disabilities: The economy is looking for staff

Working with disabilities: The economy is looking for staff

Man in a wheelchair in an office

On average, people with disabilities are unemployed more often and for longer periods.

(Photo: IMAGO/Westend61)

Dusseldorf There is a desperate need for staff in almost all sectors. According to the Institute for labour market– and professional research nationwide 1.82 million job vacancies. That was 437,600 more than in the same period of the previous year – even though the German economy may be at the beginning of a recession. According to the Federal Employment Agency (BA), there is by no means only a lack of skilled workers and specialists, but also positions for warehouse workers, service staff and temporary workers often remain vacant.

A pool of labor that is still often overlooked is people with disabilities. Of the approximately 1.45 million gainfully employed persons with a disability who are available on the regular labor market, 160,300 are currently unemployed – i.e. almost one in nine, as the new work inclusion barometer from Aktion Mensch and the HRI shows.

Compared to the previous year, the number of unemployed fell slightly by 6,000 people, but compared to the year before the crisis, 2019, unemployment was almost 7,000 higher.

More people are currently employed than ever before. According to the latest information from the Federal Statistical Office, around 45.6 million people were resident in the third quarter Germany employed; seasonally adjusted, this was 22,000 more than in the second quarter.

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In its most recent projection, the federal government is assuming that employment will peak in 2024 with an average of 45.78 million – and from there it is likely to fall by around 130,000 per year as the baby boomer generation is now retiring and through far fewer staffed cohorts in offices, offices, shops and workshops have to be replaced.

“The falling labor supply weakens the production potential, so that at the end of this decade economic growth can no longer be taken for granted,” warns Bert RuerupPresident of the Handelsblatt Research Institute (HRI).

People with disabilities feel economic crises longer

According to the BA, people with disabilities are not only unemployed more often, but often longer. The average duration for all unemployed people in October was 155 days, and for those with a severe disability 195 days – the consequences of the corona pandemic for the labor market are still being felt for them. “When people with disabilities become unemployed, they consistently feel the negative effects of economic crises longer than people without disabilities,” explains HRI President Rürup. This was shown by the results of the inclusion barometer for the past decade.

More Handelsblatt articles on the situation on the German labor market:

Almost half of the unemployed people with disabilities are currently classified as long-term unemployed; So you’ve been looking for a job for more than a year. One possible reason is that many qualification measures have not taken place in recent years due to the pandemic and, in particular, people with disabilities have not been able to acquire the skills required by the labor market, emphasizes HRI study author Jörg Lichter.

The digitization of the working world has the potential to significantly improve the opportunities of people with disabilities and to integrate a growing number of them into the regular job market. In particular, the recently significantly improved options for teleworking and home office are a great relief for many people with disabilities.

The problem with this: “So far, it has mainly been younger men with disabilities who have been trained in the new digital technologies,” says Lichter. Many women and older unemployed people with disabilities were therefore denied these new opportunities. This means that not only the labor potential that is urgently needed for the economy as a whole would be wasted. The opportunities to increase the self-esteem of many handicapped unemployed people were also wasted.

More: Guest contribution by Federal Ministers Nancy Faeser and Hubertus Heil: How we can attract more foreign skilled workers

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