Facts on Disability in the world of work

“Decent work is the ILO’s primary goal for everyone, including people with disabilities. When we promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities, we are empowering individuals, strengthening economies and enriching societies at large.” Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General

An estimated 386 million of the world’s working age people are disabled. These people have the potential to make a valuable contribution in the workforce, as employees, entrepreneurs or employers of others. Some employers have started to tap this potential. Many governments have introduced legislation, policies and programmes to promote employment opportunities for job-seekers with disabilities, job retention by people who acquire a disability while in employment, and return to work by those who have left their jobs due to their disability. But many disabled people who are willing and able to work are unemployed – as many as 80 % in some countries. Frequently, this unemployment is because employers assume that people with disabilities are unable to work and are unwilling to give them the opportunity. Often, it is because these people have not had access to education or training in employable skills, or because the support services they require are not available, or because of unsupportive legislation and policies. Sometimes, it is because buildings or transportation are inaccessible to them. These and other obstacles stand in the way of disabled people finding a job which will enable them to earn their own living, support their families and contribute to the national economy. The resulting loss is felt at every level, not only by disabled people themselves and their families, but also by employers and the wider society.