The functioning of people with disabilities has been the subject of many publications and research projects. The issues addressed in them concern various aspects of their lives. They indicate that disability does not have to mean a problem, exclusion or marginalization. People with disabilities can perform work-related tasks and be good employees. However, they face many barriers and problems that make it difficult or impossible for them to become active at work.

Based on the Labour Force Survey (Central Statistical Office, 2023) in 2022. Poland’s labor force participation rate for people with disabilities of economic working age, i.e. 18-59/64, was 34.2%, the employment rate was 32.2%, and the unemployment rate – 6.0%. These results indicate that in 2022, compared to the previous year, the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities increased by 1.3 percentage points. Of the total number of employed people with disabilities, nearly 22% worked in the public sector. These results inform us that despite numerous forms of labor activation for people with disabilities, still the majority of them of working age are unemployed.

According to researchers on the subject, there are barriers to vocational integration, which can be considered due to their internal and external nature to the person with a disability.

Internal barriers include (Żabińska, 2013, p.53):

a) limitations related to health or disability,

b) deficiencies in the area of social and vocational competence,

c) attitudes toward professional activity.

External barriers can include:

a) architectural impediments,

b) attitudes of the environment of people with disabilities,

c) dysfunctions of systems related to jurisprudence, rehabilitation and vocational integration of people with disabilities.

Among the external factors hindering vocational integration, researchers most often mention (Żabińska,2013, pp. 53-54):

a) the discouragement of employers to hire people with disabilities because of the privileges of employees with disabilities;

b) prejudice of employers due to stereotypical opinions about people with disabilities, their limited capabilities and low productivity, especially with regard to people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses;

c) the fear of disabled people of losing their pensions if they earn an income above a certain amount;

d) Lack of information regarding entitlements under the various systems of jurisprudence;

e) insufficient knowledge of the possibilities of support for vocational rehabilitation of people with disabilities;

f) insufficient scale of vocational activation, which does not promote the activation of passive people;

g) a fragmented system of support for people with disabilities;

h) weak institutional support based on assistance of a distributive nature rather than activation and counseling in the choice of education, profession, comprehensive support for families, etc.; and

i) dispersion of information and data on people with disabilities;

j) unclear, variable and complicated legislation on the employment of people with disabilities;

k) inadequate education system with respect to labor market demand and the needs of people with disabilities.

The results of the study also identified a number of internal barriers affecting the labor force participation of people with disabilities. These included, first and foremost (Śleboda, 2009, p.129):

a) the attitude of the family towards the disabled person – the lack of emotional support from the family influences the low self-esteem of the person with a disability, which causes the person to presume failure in competing with fully able-bodied people in the labor market,

b) independence of people with disabilities – people who require assistance are less likely to apply for jobs,

c) attitudes toward their own disability – people with disabilities often avoid contact with others for fear of derision and ridicule,

d) psychological predisposition – low professional self-esteem, lack of ambition, lack of competencies to search for a job reduce the chances of finding a job, in addition, people with disabilities are incapable of doing a job because of their attitude towards the work they want to do but can’t.

Bibliography

1.   Central Statistical Office 2023. Survey of Economic Activity of the Population – data from cyclical surveys of the Central Statistical Office

2.   Śleboda Renata “The direction and level of education and professional activity of people with disabilities” [in:] Research on the impact of the direction and level of education on the professional activity of people with disabilities. Final Report. Study of funding from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities. Part 1., 2009.

3.   Żabińska Agnieszka “Employment of persons with disabilities in Poland”, Warsaw, 2013.