The delegation of the Kyrgyz Republic at one of the working sessions held at the University of Helsinki (SOCIEUX+ cooperation 2019-19). Photo: D.M.

Kyrgyzstan delegation visits Finland to study good practices in the area of employment of people with disabilities

A delegation from the Kyrgyz Republic visited Finland from 16 to 20 May to learn about EU good practices in the promotion of employment opportunities for people living with disabilities and, specifically, to learn about the Finland’s experiences and lessons learned in this field.

The mission, organized by the EU Facility SOCIEUX+ and the University of Helsinki, gave eight officials and representatives from the Kyrgyz Republic the opportunity to learn policies, programs and instruments linking education, employment and career enhancement for persons living with disabilities, and to exchange with several organizations in Helsinki, including academics, policy-makers, NGOs and private sector.

The delegation had a chance to meet and to discuss with different stakeholders from labour, employment, education, and civil society. Public bodies (Ministry of Health, Ministry of foreign affairs and THL, Research institute on health and welfare) shared their experience in development of public policies in this area, the importance of data collection and evidence-based policy-making, as well as integration of all stakeholders in decision-making and policy implementation. Service providers and NGOs presented their everyday work with beneficiaries, including some interesting practices like RATKO model for matching needs of working community and skills of a worker with special needs (Vamlas), Website for graduate students, supervisors and employers (a project implemented by Invalidiliitto), Työkanava Oy (state company for employment of PwDs), etc. Interesting enough that Finland is one of the few countries that does not have quotas for workers with disabilities, but privilege other mechanisms to promote their employment. The University of Helsinki welcomed the delegation during its Equality and Diversity Committee meeting where they discussing problems faced by students with disabilities and available solutions, as well as existing support.

A team of three experts mobilized by SOCIEUX+ for this activity lead the study visit and moderate the discussions: Hisayo Katsui, Associate Professor in Disability Studies from the Faculty of Social Sciences University of Helsinki; Yulia Shumilova, Researcher from the Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University; and Yuliya Kuznetsova, Researcher from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, NOVA University in Lisbon.

The delegation was composed by officials from Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Migration, Ministry of Education and Science, as well as representatives from the NGO Union of people with disabilities Ravenstvo, and from Osh State University and Issyk-Kul State University.

The most important lessons learnt from this study visit are that inclusion starts at early age and inclusive schooling and education contribute a lot to successful integration of people with disabilities into mainstream labour market. Inclusion means also additional support and accessible services to overcome the barriers linked to disability. These services are based on individual needs of the person, assigned and adjusted individually and always discussed with beneficiaries.

Participation of persons with disabilities is important not only in decisions about their own life, but also in all policies and initiatives taken by the state in Finland. Organisations of persons with disabilities have played a crucial role in shaping the current system of social protection in Finland. VANE, National Advisory Board on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Health, makes sure that the measures on which all ministries commit in order to improve the situation of people with disabilities in their sector are developed in close collaboration with representatives of OPDs, families and professionals.

Both Finland and Kyrgyzstan have ratified and are now implementing the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite many differences between these two countries, there is still progress to be done in both of them to further improve the situation of persons with disabilities: accessibility, non-discrimination and positive attitude, enhancing participation. In this sense, the study visit was a good opportunity to share experiences from both sides.

The study visit is part of the technical cooperation that SOCIEUX+ is implementing with the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Migration and Ravenstvo since January 2021, aiming at strengthening the access to employment of persons with disabilities in higher education and creating links between education and employment sectors.

Daria Mamontova
SOCIEUX+ Action Manager

(SOCIEUX+ 2019-19)

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