Yes for all was the theme chosen by the Commission on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) for its national conference on International Day for People with Disabilities on December 3, 2018.
The focus of the conference, hence the title, was on the right to employment of people with disabilities. The MFOPD actively participated in one of the various workshops on employment. In the discussion that followed, it emerged that 398 people with disabilities were still looking for work by September 2018.
244 were looking for full-time employment, 154 part-time employment. The astonishing information emerged that the state had so far collected EUR 2.5 million from fines for companies that had not complied with the 2% quota required by law.
During the transition from workshops to further plenary sessions, the participants were informed that the EUR 2.5 million had been allocated to the Lino Spiteri Foundation (LSF) in order to enable people with disabilities to receive the appropriate training in cooperation with Jobsplus and to offer the opportunity to actually to find the jobs they were looking for and to benefit from job coaching facilities.
As a reference, the Lino Spiteri Foundation is a public social partnership between the then Employment & Training Corporation, now Jobsplus, and Empower Coop Ltd. Founded. After the National Conference, the MFOPD, which is the national umbrella of non- The governmental organization for the disability sector, discussed internally the information gathered. Various questions arose during the analysis of the information for themselves and in the light of the experience of the Maltese Association for Supported Employment (MASE) in the field of supported employment.
In their ongoing internal analysis, after the same National Conference in December, MFOPD and MASE are still concerned about certain issues that focus on key issues, including: The waiting time of the 398 jobseekers in September 2018 wasÖ Registration for work The duration of the registration time per person is considered acceptable (cases of 3 or more years).Ö the reasons for continuously promoting and exercising sheltered employment, if this is the case overallÖ in contrast to the UNCRPD the need for the national economic and labor market to create low-skilled jobs that are accessible to individualsÖ Who Wouldn’t Fit in Employees? The federation has been a catalyst in the field of positively supported employment as the very MFOPD introduced this concept to the islands.
So much so that the state entrusted its branch organization, MASE, with the implementation of the national program, which was later approved by a memorandum of understanding with the President’s Trust.
At this point it is important to briefly point out what MASE itself stands for. In 2016, the Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity funded MASE’s Positively Supported Employment program. By the end of the same year, the success rate of the program was a secure job for 520 vulnerable people, some of whom were disabled. From then on, both the newly recruited 520 vulnerable people and around 20 employees of the program were included in the structure of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS).
It should be noted that the budget for the MASE program which produced the aforementioned successful results was just under € 600,000. Another logical question arises: 2 years after a successful return on investment in relation to secure employment of over 500 people and 20 MASE employees within one year, all within a budget of € 600,000, which improvements and successes have been registered by FSWS as eminent entrusted with the project? MASE has worked on supported employment and has achieved a more positive outcome than was forecast and expected by state officials, who were initially skeptical of the concept.
MASE managed to double the score in terms of the number and sustainability of job security, as suggested by the officials concerned as a trial assumption. It is obvious that the relevance and sustainability of other funded programs (JESS and INK) that are similar in practice to the already highly funded public social partnership are being questioned.
MFOPD and MASE base their joint internal discussion on Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), according to which: States parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal footing with others; This includes the right to the opportunity to live from freely chosen or accepted work in a labor market and working environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. In the face of such a statement, one tends to wonder why sheltered employment is consistently promoted and practiced.
Supported employment, as endorsed by the Convention and successfully promulgated by MASE, has borne fruit in all respects in a relatively short time and on a limited budget.
Hence the questions: Are we getting value for the money spent on people with disabilities to gain access to the open labor market?Ö Who is responsible for ensuring that the value of money is spent for the full benefit of all?Ö Disability?