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Recruitment initiative in Sweden29th of June 2012
Reporting from Sweden, our correspondent Petra Sjouwerman examines a new government proposal on recruiting people with disabilities.
The Swedish minister for labour Hillevi Engström from the Liberal-Conservative party has recently announced that she wants to encourage companies to hire people with disabilities.
According to recent research carried out by the weekly business journal Veckans Affärer and the Swedish Organisation for Managers, employers have not been particularly good at hiring people with disabilities and reduced working ability. Therefore the minister has announced that the government will increase its budget allocation, making it possible to receive 100,000 kronor (11,000 euro) per workplace and per worker to help with the necessary adjustments. At the same time the government wants to reduce the number of different kind of budget allocations in order to simplify the procedure for employers.
Remarkably enough, this will probably make life harder for Samhall, one of the biggest companies in Sweden. It provides services and goods in a range of sectors like cleaning, assembly and packing and manufacturing. Samhall employs 20,000 people in 250 localities throughout Sweden and has an annual turnover of approximately 765 million euro.
Samhall is wholly owned by the Swedish state and is the leading company in providing meaningful work for people with disabilities. Roughly 60 per cent of its employees have some kind of physical disability as a result of an illness or an accident. The other 40 per cent have intellectual or socio-medical disabilities, ranging from dyslexia to ADHD or mental or stress related illnesses.
One of the ultimate goals of the company is to match these people to jobs in the ordinary labour market outside Samhall. Every year some 1,000 of Samhall’s 20,000 employees are hired by other companies.
All employees have an active role in their own development process that consists of a regular reassessment of abilities, long-term goals, and plans to achieve those goals (Dare to Win). Other actions involve strengthening of self-confidence and motivation, individually or in groups (Dare More) and training for job seeking, individually or in groups (Dare to Move on).
Since the early 1990’s Samhall has been financed by an annual appropriation from the state without clear performance criteria. Now the minister proposes to reimburse Samhall under the same rules as other employers, by budget allocations and not by an annual lump sum.
Some labour market analysts fear this might mean the end of Samhall. But the former minister of social affairs, who was one of the driving forces behind the new proposal does not agree.
“It is not right that Samhall receives a lump sum and that we cannot see where the money goes. Samhall is still an important company with a strong balance sheet and it has made profits in recent years,” Cristina Husmark Pehrsson said. She underlined that the EU Commission has pointed out that state aid is not compatible with EU competition rules.
In Sweden 16 per cent of people of employable age (between 16 and 65) have some kind of disability. Unemployment among people with reduced work ability is double that of the rest of the labour force and it is rising.