79.4% of people with disabilities have seen their professional situation deteriorate since the start of the pandemic
One year after the installation of COVID-19 in our routines, the Adecco Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Equality and Inclusive Policies of the Generalitat Valenciana, presents the report on disability and social relations. This is the second time that this analysis has been carried out: in its first edition, it conducted a survey of 1000 Spanish workers in order to detect their level of knowledge and openness to inclusion of people with disabilities.
On this occasion, the approach was reversed and the protagonists were people with disabilities themselves who, over the past year, have been seriously exposed to situations of poverty and / or exclusion due to the crisis of coronavirus.
Almost no one doubts that social distancing measures are essential in curbing the spread of the virus, but it is nonetheless true that the restrictions are proving particularly harsh for many people with disabilities, as their daily routines and their habits. social relations were abruptly interrupted last. year, and, even today, they have not been repeated regularly. In this scenario, a question must be asked: does the “new normal” scenario offer enough opportunities to ensure the social and professional inclusion of people with disabilities? Does physical distance also translate into greater emotional distance?
The Adecco Foundation, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Equality and Inclusive Policies, surveyed 700 people with disabilities to answer these questions and analyze other key aspects with a view to their full integration during a pandemic. The Department of Equality and Inclusive Policies, in its support for programs of general interest for social purposes with an automatic charge to the autonomous section of the tax distribution of 0.7% on personal income tax physical, supports this report, produced by the Adecco Foundation, with the aim of making visible the situations of exclusion and / or poverty derived from COVID-19, analyzing the consequences of distancing in the process of socio-professional integration .
23,818 contracts in the first quarter, 7.7% less than last year
The pandemic has transcended the health aspect to trigger an unprecedented social emergency, which further affects people with disabilities and their families, as they traditionally face more difficulties in accessing employment and must bear additional expenses related to health care .
There are no figures more eloquent than those of job creation to illustrate the great difficulties that people with disabilities have experienced in recent months. After the end of 2020 with a 26% drop in hiring year over year, in the first quarter of 2021 the drop was more moderate, 7.7%, considering that the data for the year last include the toughest months in the state. alarm and containment. More specifically, in the first 3 months of this year, people with disabilities signed 23,818 contracts. This is the second consecutive decrease in the hiring of people with disabilities, after 7 years of increase, since in 2020 there was the first decrease in this period since 2012, when 15 days of the state of March 2020 alarm have been recorded.
And if this decrease was less than that recorded at the general level for the whole population (15%), in the case of disabled people the difficulties of access to employment are twofold, since they are not only confronted with to the economic crisis, but rather to historical prejudices and stereotypes that hamper short-term employment opportunities.
Access to employment, more difficult than ever
On the other hand, the results show that, during this pandemic year, 79.4% of the disabled people questioned saw their professional situation deteriorate. More specifically, 17.6% lost their jobs permanently; 6.5% continue in ERTE situation; 4.2% had to reduce the working day; 4.4% are on leave for health reasons and, finally, a majority of 46.7% were looking for work and stress how the pandemic makes this search extremely difficult. On the other hand, 20.6% say that the pandemic has had no impact on their professional situation.
Likewise, in the past year, 55% of people with disabilities actively seeking employment have not conducted job interviews or had no contact with the business world.
“People with disabilities and their families fear that this crisis will permanently reduce their vital opportunities to access the world of work and many fear that the 2020 decade will be lost in terms of professional inclusion. Urgent action is needed to minimize the effects of COVID-19 on the disabled population, ensuring their participation in employment as the main means of social inclusion ”- underlines Mesonero.
The “side effects” of distancing
Social distancing measures essential to contain COVID-19 are weakening the commercial fabric and causing serious damage in certain sectors of the Spanish economy. However, the consequences of these restrictions are not only economic, but also social. These are more difficult to quantify, as there are still no reliable indicators to measure the impact of the coronavirus on intangible assets such as the full inclusion of people with disabilities. This survey attempted to approximate by analyzing the perception that people with disabilities themselves have in this regard. How do you think the limitation of social relations affects the process of inclusion?
75% of those questioned fear that social distancing collaterally harms the process of social and professional inclusion of people with disabilities. Meanwhile, 25% do not believe that these measures will have an impact on this development.
“Coexistence and interaction have always been the pillars of the exchange of values and the elimination of prejudices and stereotypes. In a context where social relations are drastically limited, it is time to explore new formulas which, in complete safety, guarantee the socialization of people with disabilities. Reducing the digital divide or stepping up employability initiatives is essential to avoid social exclusion, to which people with disabilities are doubly exposed during COVID-19 ”, emphasizes Francisco Mesonero, CEO of the Adecco Foundation.
Priority: eradicate the digital divide
In a world that is moving towards the online environment, the need to increase access to the Internet as a universal right is accelerating so that everyone can use the services of the network for their social and professional relations.
However, internet access levels remain extremely uneven in Spain and today 10% of the population – around 5 million citizens – do not have a connection to the network, according to a report by the telecommunications company Eurona. . This circumstance particularly affects rural areas and in particular the elderly; However, people with disabilities are also a core particularly vulnerable to digital isolation, given their higher levels of poverty and social exclusion.
Data from the Technology and Handicap report, prepared by the Adecco Foundation in July 2020, show this situation: 13% of people with disabilities do not have an internet connection at home. And while the remaining 87% have a connection, 38% admit that they cannot function easily in the online environment.
But if Internet access is the first step in ensuring equal opportunities, the digital divide and the principle of universal accessibility go beyond simple connectivity, raising other technical, economic and social aspects. In the aforementioned Technology and Disability Survey, when asked directly about the use and management of new technologies, almost half of people with disabilities (45%) said they found barriers. Specifically, 42% said it seemed “very complex and advanced” to use, followed by 32% who found accessibility issues because they were unable to handle certain devices due to incompatibilities related to their disability. For their part, 20.6% do not trust digital technology and fear being victims of fraud, while 15.9% say they lack the financial resources to buy and acquire new technologies.
These digital barriers can build big walls in the process of social inclusion of people with disabilities but, above all, at the professional level.
“In the era of COVID-19, job search cannot be understood without digital technology: most job offers are on the Internet, selection processes turn into video interviews and teleworking has come for stay. It is therefore essential to minimize the barriers that people with disabilities face in their interaction with technology. And companies, we can contribute to this challenge, bet on universal accessibility or develop training programs or professional volunteering that bring new technologies to people with disabilities in a critical, effective and safe way – underlines Mesonero.
The major triggers of social and work discrimination
This survey made it possible to identify the main triggers of discrimination against people with disabilities. According to the responses, respondents believe that prejudice is the main factor of discrimination (45.6%), followed by ignorance (26.3%), indifference (21.7%) and overprotection ( 6.4%).
Prejudices Preconceived opinions, based on tradition and outdated stereotypes, lead to a distorted perception of people with disabilities, which focuses on trivial details, blurring the values and qualities that really matter. Prejudice is the biggest obstacle to the full inclusion of people with disabilities, according to 45.6% of those surveyed. Lack of knowledge: The absence of experiences with people with disabilities can lead to insecurity, fear and unconscious attitudes of rejection. Ignorance is the main obstacle to the inclusion of people with disabilities, according to 26.3% of respondents. Indifference. Disability may seem a distant and irrelevant circumstance to those who do not experience it in their deepest circle. This passivity leads to invisibility, hampering the equitable participation of people with disabilities in different social spheres. Indifference is the main obstacle to the inclusion of people with disabilities, according to 21.7% of respondents. Overprotection. Excessive parental or professional intervention or patronizing and infantilized treatment prevents people with disabilities from facing challenges on their own and developing a confident and independent personality. Overprotection is the main obstacle to the inclusion of people with disabilities, according to 6.4% of respondents.