People with disabilities are much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than people who do not have disabilities. Adult vocational education and specialist support have not proved effective in changing this situation. There are some groups of disabled people who are currently extremely unlikely to ever find a job: for example, in most countries fewer than 20 percent of adults with autism are in full‐time paid work.
It is clear that neither segregated vocational (special) education nor providing support for disabled adults in mainstream vocational programmes is working. To solve the problem, we need to look at all aspects of the issue, from how and where vocational education is delivered and what it contains, to other barriers, such as bullying in education and workplaces, direct and indirect discrimination by employers, and intersectional forms of disadvantage and discrimination. Our goal is to consider the evidence for what works and what doesn’t, and to use it as the basis of public policy and education and employment practice recommendations for the Netherlands, the EU and beyond.
Our workshop will be interdisciplinary, bringing together leaders of Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs), training providers, education specialists—particularly those involved with the innovative Universal Design for Learning paradigm—and social scientists and researchers capable of revealing and analysing barriers to education and work and measuring the impact of focused interventions. We will be asking big questions, and so our participants will include both highly experienced people who can bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to the table, and young researchers who can bring the latest ideas and tactics. We will ensure that participants are invited who can represent employers’ views and experiences, and who have knowledge of current corporate Human Resources policies and practices that impact employment of disabled people. And because our goals include transforming both public policy and vocational education/employment practice, we will also invite contributions from senior policymakers.
At the end of the workshop, we will have created a set of concrete public policy and education/employment practice proposals designed to ensure that vocational education and hiring practices are effective, and lead to sustainable work for disabled people: supporting employers and governments to fulfill their responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.