The Free State lags behind the employment rate of severely disabled people nationally – although there is a shortage of skilled workers in many sectors.
Employment of people with disabilities has reached an all-time high in Saxony. According to the employment agency, in 2020 over 58 thousand. disabled people had a job covered by social security contributions. This is a good 6,200 more than in 2015. Nevertheless, people with disabilities still face difficulties in the Saxon labor market. Compared to the national level, the Free State lags far behind the employment rate of severely disabled people.
Companies with 20 or more employees are required to fill five percent of their jobs with severely disabled people. But that’s not the case in Saxony. In fact, according to the employment agency, in 2020 this figure was only 4.1% in Bavaria. – so below the national average, which was 4.6 percent. Instead, 61 percent of Saxon companies that actually had to work bought the exit. They prefer to pay a compensatory fee, which can be up to € 360 per month for each target job vacant, rather than filling the limit for severely disabled people.
Currently, there is no more up-to-date data as companies have more than a year to report the number of jobs occupied by severely disabled people. For Klaus-Peter Hansen, head of the Saxon employment agency, there is still a long way to go when it comes to employing people with disabilities in the Free State. – The integration of people with severe disabilities offers many opportunities – he emphasizes. They have above-average qualifications and thanks to appropriate work aids financed by employment agencies and integration offices, they are able to perform 100% of jobs. “They are often specialists who are desperately needed.”
Of the 8,240 severely disabled people registered as unemployed in Saxony in April 2022, 72 percent had an academic or specialist education, according to the recruitment agency. About a quarter of severely disabled unemployed people have not completed training, while one in three unemployed people has not received any training.
The employment agency wants to clarify the prejudices. For example, people with disabilities do not get sick more often than their colleagues, but are often even more committed and motivated. Also, the mere formal characteristic of “severe disability” says nothing about an individual’s ability to perform an activity. “It’s not about what someone can’t do, it’s about who is particularly good at what,” says Hansen. “People with disabilities have many talents and qualifications – even in bottleneck positions.”
This also applies to severely disabled people who do not enjoy special protection against dismissal during the first six months of employment. During the trial period, the employment relationship can be terminated like any other. Only after this period has expired does the integration office have to agree to the termination.
Severely disabled people can work in almost any industry. However, they are often looking for a job in an office or secretary’s office, as a porter or janitor, in the cleaning or warehouse industry, says Frank Vollgold, spokesman for the Saxon employment agency. But she is often interested in working in gardening, sales or as a chef. “Increasing digitization is also expanding the employment opportunities for skilled disabled workers,” says the head of the Hansen agency. “It is therefore important that other Saxon employers open up to people with disabilities and become opportunities themselves.”
The example from Vogtland shows how inclusion can become normal. At the Goldbrötchen bakery in Falkenstein, which recently won the nationwide 2021 Business Inclusion Award for its commitment, 11 out of 46 employees are severely disabled. Owner Gerd-Ralf Jahnsmüller recently explained that it is often difficult for people with disabilities to find work at work, as he himself experienced with two relatives with trisomy 21. “And if someone can help people with disabilities, we are the entrepreneurs.” It also pays off.
Inclusion has been practiced in the company for 15 years. Among other things, barrier-free workplaces and departments have been created, as well as a new firewood production and landscape maintenance department to provide the injured with a different area of work if necessary. “We are now not only more social, but also more competitive,” says Jahnsmüller.