Only one in three disabled people have a job in Latvia

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Latvia has more than 190 thousand adult persons with disabilities, and only about 27% are employed. This is half the average in the European Union, Latvian Radio reported August 16.

Ilona Jurševska, head of the State Agency for Social Inclusion (SIVA), explained that the reasons for the relatively low rate of employment in Latvia are different – from difficult external circumstances to lack of confidence.

Many of these people have also obtained education and skills but they have not been able to enter the labor market. Jurševska said that the potential of people with disabilities in the labour market is undervalued.

“Both public prejudices on disability, on the ability of these people to be on the labor market and to perform their duties professionally. [..] There is also a big gap between public and municipal responsibility for the employment of people with disabilities. This is the result if there is simply no such system,” she said.

However, the trend is positive and the employment of people with disabilities is increasing. In 2017, 25% of people with disabilities were employed and 27% in 2019.

Ivars Balodis, board member of the association of disabled people and allies 'Apeirons' said that employment needs to be seen together with environmental accessibility, and the situation in this regard is poor, with only 8% of buildings fully accessible to anyone.

At the end of the first half of 2021, the State Employment Agency (NVA) accounted for more than 10 thousand unemployed people with disabilities. This is 15% of the total number of unemployed persons registered by the NVA.

Signe Bierande, spokeswoman for the State Employment Agency, told Latvian Radio that more than half of the registered unemployed are aged over 50 and 47% are long-term unemployed. Most of the persons with disabilities registered in the State Employment Agency had worked in professions such as an assistant worker, janitor, shop assistant, cook, driver, carer. 

A person with disabilities has been considered to be able to work under the law, except in cases where a commission has determined 100% loss of capacity, said Bierande. “Work-seekers with disabilities have very good potential to enter the labor market, but employment opportunities depend on the disability group and type. Most people with disabilities, with the support and assistance they need, such as adjusting the workplace, are able to perform their professional duties well.”

In the seven months of 2021, 2,123 unemployed persons with disabilities registered in the employment agency got a job, Bierande said.

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