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Making workplaces accessible for people with disabilities has become one of the key issues of worker employability. Improving accessibility opens up more opportunities and can help overcome social and economic exclusion. For companies, it creates a diverse workforce, in which untapped talents can be unlocked. Accessibility is one of the instruments to reduce unemployment and tackle the fight against poverty and exclusion.
In the EU, the employment rate of people with disabilities is 20% lower than that of people without disabilities. In OECD countries, research shows that the average disposable income of people with disabilities is 12% below national averages.
Growing impetus behind the issue amongst all stakeholders is reflected in regulatory and educational initiatives. Within the EU2020 Agenda, the European Commission adopted a new European Disability Strategy in 2010. The Commission also plans to draft a European Disability Act in 2012, to ensure and promote the integration of people with disabilities into the labour market.
Our experience shows that employers can improve accessibility to workplaces at three levels, starting from physical adjustments to the work environment such as adapting workspaces; to adjusting labour conditions by including the possibility of flexible working models; to taking steps to ensure that communication with people with disabilities is as effective as for other employees.
Through our business operations and Adecco Foundations we work on the frontline of accessibility. In 2010, the Adecco Group helped around 9,000 people with disabilities gain employment in Europe: that is an increase of 20% compared to 2009. In 2010 our Adecco Foundation in Spain published an Accessibility Guide for Companies, which was presented to the European Commission to help policy development. Read the guide here. We are a founding member of "Business & Disability", a European network – now orchestrated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) - of companies and organisations involved in helping people with disabilities access the labour market.
Our activities addressing accessibility are wide-ranging and innovative. In 2010 we opened a state of the art "Centre for Disability and Competencies" in Paris, France. The centre provides specialist career guidance and job placement support and advises clients how to address barriers to accessibility. In the USA our partnership with Abilities Inc. is one of many ways we create more opportunities for people with disabilities to access the workforce: you can find out more at http://www.adeccousa.com/AboutUs/what-we-stand-for/Pages/Disability-initiatives.aspx
By focusing on talents and specific skill sets, we're helping to build an accessible workplace – where people are recognized for their abilities and career goals.
Learn more about the Adecco Foundation's Spain initiatives on Accessibility
Our activities to improve accessibility at Adecco France
However we decipher dramatic economic, demographic and social changes underway in the globalised era, increasing talent mobility will be one of the keys to unlocking future societal development. Stating that, talent mobility must be seen as a broad issue encompassing not only the ability of people to move for work opportunities geographically, but also from education or unemployment into work, and – through the acquisition of skills and experience - between different occupations and industries or sectors.
In developed markets, skills shortages drive the forecast agendas due to ageing populations and skills mismatches between education systems and employment needs. Solutions are needed to (re)-allocate talent and unlock the potential of workers according to the needs of the labour market. By 2030, as per the World Economic Forum's most recent research, the developed world will need millions of new talented workers to sustain economic growth (US: 26 million employees; Western Europe: 46 million employees).
In fast developing economies in Asia and Latin America with young age profiles, talent shortages are growing - despite great advances in the availability and quality of education - due to low employability. In those cases, an interchange of talent through migration is key as it can produce benefits for sender and receiver countries, as well as for the individuals themselves.
Creating pathways for talent mobility is a key issue for all stakeholders. We endorse the strategies for skills, migration and corporate human resources presented in the 2010 World Economic Forum Report on "Stimulating Economies through Talent Mobility". In Europe, we support the initiatives proposed by the European Commission alongside EURES (European Employment Services), ranging from Your First EURES Job to contributing to the European Vacancy Monitor and relevant legislative proposals. Since 2010, we have partnered with EURES in Europe to host Job Day Fairs to attract people to work across borders and industries.
Our services for our associates and clients place us at the crossroads of talent mobility; our career development tools help us partner individuals wherever they are in their life cycle and whatever their aspirations or skill development require. We also connect clients with professional talents and skills that are outside their own geographic borders and core competencies. We engage with Governments and key stakeholders to demonstrate our industry's pivotal role in delivering practical solutions to bring efficiency and effectiveness to the talent challenge.
Read the World Economic Forum Talent Mobility Best Practices Report Or visit the World Economic Forum repository of talent mobility good practices
After Generations X and Y, now comes Generation Z also known as Generation M (multitasking), Millennial, Internet or Net. It stands for the group of people born between the early to mid-1990s and the early 2000s. Whilst they may have been brought up in a 'virtual' world (since the rise of the World Wide Web in 1994) they face "real" problems when looking to transition into the workforce and sustaining employment.
Unemployment is disproportionately high amongst young people and the problem has intensified since the economic downturn of 2008. In the 26 OECD countries youth unemployment has reached over 18%; across Europe it is more than 21% on average, with a dramatic peak at around 40% in Spain. Around 10% of these unemployed youth are classified as NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training. Fears are growing that a so-called "scarred generation" is forming of low skilled and work inexperienced young people.
The economic, social and personal costs of exclusion from the workforce are wide-ranging and affect not only youth, but entire societies and economies. The effects are already mirrored today in developed economies, hit hard by the economic downturn, unmasking the mismatch between education systems and labour market needs, in an era of growing worldwide skill shortages.
All of society is a stakeholder in this issue and action is afoot. The OECD's "Jobs for Youth" initiative launched in 2006 calls for short term entry level jobs to act as a stepping stone into more stable jobs. The European Commission's 'Youth on the Move' initiative, launched in 2010, aims at 'unleashing all young people's potential and achieving the Europe 2020 objectives'. Temporary work is one of the solutions to bringing young workers into the labour market, recognized by the EU-Commission and many Governments. While training is key to every worker, it is of particular importance for young professionals. The Adecco White Paper "Two worlds collide? Bringing Copenhagen to Bologna" showcases how countries with dual educational systems lead to better integrated young professionals and thus lower levels of youth unemployment.
Helping Generation Zs successfully transition into the labour market, sustain their employability and develop careers is at the heart of our operations. Over half of the associates whom we place in work are under 25 years old. The majority of our placements are in temporary roles, be it in low skilled or highly qualified positions, providing a stepping-stone into the labour market and a route to gain experience. In 2006, DIS AG in Germany began partnering Lufthansa's training arm 'TRAINICO', by placing young associates in their occupational apprenticeship programme. Through the scheme, DIS AG pays the apprentice's salary and acts as mentor, helping them acquire valuable skills and qualifications and enhance employment prospects. The success of the scheme was one of the reasons why the Adecco Group Germany acquired part of 'TRAINICO' in March 2011. Every year, TRAINICO trains around 2,000 people for a wide range of roles within the aviation industry.
Learn more from the Adecco whitepaper "Bringing Copenhagen to Bologna"
The participation of women in the workforce is linked to societal, cultural and economic realities. Due to demographic challenges and the lack of skilled workers, the search for solutions to further facilitate the integration of women into the labour market is gaining momentum, with flexible working arrangements being the cornerstone of the successful participation of women in the workforce.
The gainful employment of women is increasing worldwide. In Europe the labour participation rate of women increased by 7.1% over the last decade and reached 59.1% in 2008. The Europe 2020 strategy for "smart, sustainable and inclusive growth" raised the target to increase the employment ratio of men and women aged between 20 and 64 years of age to 75 %.
In developed economies, the corporate impetus to encourage a gender diverse or balanced workforce is gathering pace. In the 2011 Report 'Women Matters', Mckinsey substantiates the clear correlation between company success and the women density at management levels. As the report outlines, those companies that boasted critical mass of females in leadership positions score better in the 'leadership', motivation' and 'innovation' success categories, and their financial success is higher.
As a major global company and a key actor in the labour market, we are deeply involved in the issue of working women. In 2010, 40% of Adecco's own executives were female managers, with 20% in senior management positions and 35% heading Adecco branches. We especially serve the needs of women returning to work after a career break or maternity leave, where flexible, temporary or part time roles often are a preferred route to re-integrate into the workforce.
In 2010, Adecco USA gave a strong signal by championing the 'Women's Leadership Conference - The Shift: An Opportunity to Change the Game', gathering hundreds of key stakeholders around that issue and highlighting the added value of working women in Corporate America. Also in the USA, our Adecco Career Connections Program is focused upon finding employment for spouses of military personnel as they face the challenges of finding suitable work in different locations for the duration of postings. Our Adecco Foundations in Spain, France and Italy engage in tailored programmes to enable single mothers and victims of domestic violence to integrate into the workforce and gain economic independence.
Read more about the military spouses programme at Adecco USA www.adeccousa.com/AboutUs/special-programs/Pages/Military-spouses.aspx
21st Century demographics are driven by lower birth rates and longer life expectancy. The effects for the labour market are manifold, the key lies in matching the solutions for the mature workforce and the offerings and needs of the market. In 1950, there were seven working age people for every retired person in the United States. By 2030, there will be only three. Eurostat predicts that in Europe deaths will exceed births beginning as early as 2015 and that, despite increasing immigration, the population will shrink. At the same time, many baby boomers will be entering the life phase defined today as 'retirement' in Europe.
An ageing workforce and demographic changes pose profound and multifaceted challenges to Governments and businesses alike. In recent years, Governments have pushed the ageing workforce issue up the political agenda. In the EU, the year 2012 has been declared as "European Year forof Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations' with the aim of fostering solutions to enable mature workers to stay longer in the labour market, and remain healthy, active and autonomous for as long as possible. To coincide with the EU Year 2012, Adecco has published a White Paper entitled "It's time to manage age. Overview of labour market practices affecting older workers in Europe". The White Paper is available in English and French
Also as part of the European Year for Active Ageing, the Adecco Group is a member of the consortium running the Golden Workers project. It was launched to promote new models of extending professional active life and the application of new emerging technologies. Visit the website to learn more
Adecco group sponsored the European Alliance on Skills for Employability award 2011 in the category 'Active Ageing through IT learning'. The award was won by the Internet Saloon which runs free computer skills and Internet courses for the over 50s in 3 Italian cities. Learn more about the award-wining project here
As people live longer, many want or need to work longer. As a pension crisis threatens, political and societal pressure is building for the age of retirement and entitlement to state pensions to be pushed back in life. The 'traditional' linear pattern of education, work and retirement is blurring. Concepts such as lifelong learning gain momentum as means to re-skill and extend the employability of mature workers. As skills shortages are expected to grow, leading companies seek to foster new strategies to retain, attract or even rehire workers, which in many cases may be mature workers. For both mature workers and businesses the solution lies in flexible working arrangements.
We take practical steps to help mature workers (re-)integrate into the workforce and encourage life long-learning to sustain their employability. In the USA, our Renaissance Program promotes the advantages of temporary work for mature workers who want or need to supplement their income, mentor young employees or simply stay active in their older years. For our own engagement, Adecco USA was awarded the AARP 'Best Employers for Workers over 50' distinction four times since 2002. Read more about our engagement at Adecco USA http://www.adeccousa.com/AboutUs/special-programs/Pages/Mature-workers.aspx
Contributing to the development of strategies to meet the challenges of ageing workforces, we have carried out 3 demographic fitness tests of several European countries and also developed 'Improving Lifelong Learning – a tool box for companies, employees and institutions'.
In the midst of a complex web of influences, the fundamental drivers of the changing world of work are demographic change and globalisation.
In our globalised economy – driven by technological change and innovation – a made-to-order mind-set is gathering pace. This not only has profound implications on production and consumption, but also on the length and nature of the employer/employee relationship and thus the nature of work. Ensuring adaptability and flexibility is becoming as much a company imperative as an attitude to work by every worker himself. Career paths are no longer linear over a lifetime. Full permanent life-long employment is no longer the reality. New ways of work already populate the reality in many economies, featuring shorter employment relationships, time limited positions, temporary work and project related assignments.
At some stage in a working life, flexible workforce solutions will be needed and sought after by everyone. Independently of gender, generation, ability, and geographical and industrial background and belonging, the future of work will require adaptable solutions, looking to uphold each and everyone's employability, in line with the needs and requirements of the labour market. The needs of businesses may shift faster, requiring a mobile talent pool. For individuals, a higher degree of personal responsibility for career development and related work/life choices and aspirations will be key.
In our role as intermediary between workers and businesses, we are looking forward to taking on those paths and developments along the life cycle of personal and corporate life. Corporations are deploying HR strategies with built-in flexibility to cope with changes and at the same time require external expertise to access scarce talent for the right time and duration. Retention of talent, considered core to business, will increase in importance and new approaches will be developed. Workers, on the other hand, appreciate the partnership that provides career development support and increased chances of sustaining their employability.
Governments have already recognized the role of HR solution providers in responding to the changing demands and realities of work, at this stage summarised in the "flexicurity" approach. While the full potential of the concept still needs to be evaluated, we support the four components of this integrated strategy to simultaneously enhance flexibility and security in the labour market:
In a changing world, flexibility will be key to successful futures in the world of work. Discover how future jobs will look in the Europe of the Future in Adecco's publication from 2011.
Read the paper by Adecco:
Future Jobs: How We Will Work in the Europe of the Future Working world 2020 – a qualitative study of trends in cooperation with the Zukunftsinstitut [Future Institute]