Outcomes of Recent Reforms of Supported Employment Programmes. a Comparative Study.
Supported Employment here is understood as publicly subsidised forms of employment for people with (learning) disabilities in sheltered work places in social companies and the transition to the regular labour market. This involves vocational profiling, training and assistance in finding and staying in paid work.
Key objective of the presented study is the comparison of supported employment programmes in the countries Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands and The United Kingdom in reference to the Austrians`s federal state Upper Austria. Most of those counties have been reforming their programmes to increase mainstream labour market participation of the target group and to reduce expenditure on disability benefits. The presented paper identifies strengths and weaknesses of the various employment schemes and inform about outcomes of recent reforms experienced in the given countries.
First the social law and labour law context of Supported Employment was examined and the specific arrangements were analyzed concerning aspects like funding, payment, accessibility, support process and transition to the regular labour market. In interviews with experts, the authors found out contradictory effects of reforms in supported employment targeting inclusive employment. Service providers deal in different ways with an environment of cuts in funding by an austerity policy and a tight labour market. When sheltered work places in social enterprises were reduced, results of the analysis show a creaming effect: while the most job ready persons within a target group get an employment on the mainstream labour market, an increasing number of people with disabilities stay out of work and employment, most of them inactive at home with basic social transfers.