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Knock-knock-knockin' on job's door

"… Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door

Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door

Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door

Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door, eh yeah..."

Bob Dylan, in Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Knock-knock-knockin’ on heaven’s door, eh yeah !! I think you all know the lyrics to this song right? At least the chorus! And probably many of us have already tried to sing it, not always with much success and even with some shame.

Without much success and with a lot of shame are the results released yesterday from the report People with disabilities in Portugal - Human Rights Indicators 2021. Many of these results are well known by people with disabilities, who live them day by day with an extreme challenge.

I have already written and spoken several times about the increasing number of autistic people who are applying for higher education. Although it is also known, at least in the UK, that around 60% of autistic people who enter Higher Education end up dropping out without completing their training. It is also known that around 80% of adult autistic people are unemployed. And the remaining 20% have a precarious contract.

How can we think that autistic people can become autonomous and independent? We try to make an early diagnosis, to intervene more and better, and then what? They reach adulthood and cannot make this transition. And why is that?

The report People with disabilities in Portugal - Human Rights Indicators 2021, states that in the last 10 years (between 2011 and 2021) registered unemployment in the population with disabilities in mainland Portugal increased by 30.5%, with this growth being much more accentuated in women (+63.1%) than in men with disabilities (+9.8%). On the contrary, in the same period, in the Portuguese population this indicator decreased (-43.2%), both for men (-47.7%) and for women (-39.2%).

And don't go on saying that this fact is the effect of the pandemic. Or that it had to do with the result of the financial crisis that began in 2008. The crises are much older than all these others and concern the way in which difference and neurodiversity is viewed. Even though the effects of the pandemic crisis were more serious for the employability of people with disabilities, registering, in 2021, absolute values of registered unemployment at the end of the year never seen before (N=13 583).

And if they think that Law no. 4/2019 that creates employment quotas for people with disabilities obliging companies with 75 or more workers will make the situation reverse, maybe they can think about everything else that needs to be done. Even because this same law only works for people with a disability rate of 60% or more. Leaving behind a whole set of people with so many other skills, but who face the same difficulties entering the labour market.

In 2019 in mainland Portugal, only 0.58% (n = 13 702) of the total human resources of companies with 10 or more employees were people with disabilities, still registering a growth of 7.7% compared to 2018 (+982). In the public sector, in 2020, in Portugal, 2.62% (n = 18 819) of workers in public administrations had disabilities, translating into a year-on-year growth of only +1.03% (+192), the lowest since 2014.

In the area of education, the number of students with disabilities attending higher education in academic year 2020/21 was found to have increased by 11.7% (n=2 582) compared to academic year 2019/20 (n=2 311). In 2019/20 there were a total of 632 students/as with disabilities graduating representing an increase of 55.7% (+226) on the previous year (n=406) and +108.6% on 2016/17 (n=303).

If this path continues we risk having the group of people with disabilities who are better qualified but are still unable to enter the labour market. Until we view disabled people as citizens with equal rights, we will continue to practice charity in placements.

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Good afternoon, I was wondering if you could send the job interview questions in advance? asked Ana (fictitious name). The other incredulous person even asked her if she was joking. What do you mean?


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