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Opportunities Of Integration Of Disabled Persons To Labour Market In Conditions Of Information Society

Egle Kazemikaitiene, Tatjana Bileviciene, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

The Lisbon Strategy stated a new strategic aim for the European Union to transform the European Union into the most dynamic economy in the world in a decade, asserting of increase and betterment of opportunities of employment and bigger social cohesion. Implementation of the Lisbon Strategy means concentration on two main tasks: encouragement of stronger permanent increase of economy and creation of more and better job places. Most serious attention should be paid to differences between the socially disadvantaged, and the disabled. It is important to fight discrimination, encourage opportunities of employment for the disabled. Lithuania successfully participates in implementation programmes of the Lisbon Strategy. The state undertook for every resident who can and would like to work to create opportunities to ensure proper level of living by his or her work, care of socially most vulnerable persons more and develop more flexible forms of work organisation. Development of an information society is one of the three main priorities of the Republic of Lithuania stated in Lithuanian long-term development strategy. It conforms with the goals of the European Union. Objectives of Lithuanian information society development are coordinated with attitudes and demands of the Lisbon Strategy and initiative eEurope information society for everyone. The disabled can integrate into labour market by taking part in telework and e-business. It is quite important that disabled persons could use IT opportunities. Authors consider the opportunity of disabled integration in labour market by implementing modern information technologies.

According to the Lisbon strategy, the policy of the European Union member-states should encourage the employment. Europe should improve the ability to forecast, accelerate and assimilate economic and social changes. For such purpose the favourable for employment consumptions of work, modern ways of work organisation, well operating labour markets, where the flexibility is combining with guarantees of employment and needs of enterprises and employees are satisfying, are needed. The strategy of development of economy and creation of work places is common part of EU reforms [1]. 
Explosion of application of IT in recent decade brought a totally new situation.  An information network, e-mail not only connected continents, towns or hopelessly isolated places.  Such technologies became the measure of education, cooperation and social integration of disabled persons, as well.
There is a plenty of new opportunities, but the main of it is the level of education.
Rapid development of the internet during recent years had an important impact on economy. It changed not only economy, but also all processes in enterprises, new relations between employers and employees and new ways of work organisation were created.
Lithuania makes big progress in implementing of national programme of reforms in most fields of macroeconomic, microeconomic and employment policy. But most measures are still of conceptual level, so there is a lot to do for its implementation [2].
In spite of plenty of national systems, there is the common European social model that has the peculiarities of all EU states national systems and inter-harmony of economical efficiency and social development. Properly prepared trends of social and labour markets policy could become the real power for expanding social justice and cohesion and economical effectiveness and productivity [3].
Persons with disability as other members of our society have a requirement to be employed in significant activity, which accords benefits for society and for themselves. Satisfaction of such requirement creates provisions to feel independent of others, to feel as full-fledged humans. Most often people perform activities they are interested in - the same could be said about their professional practice. Effective integration to labour market of persons who havent favourable conditions would increase level of social involvement and employment and improve the equivalent of security systems.
Limitation of physical mobility caused by disability often prevents involvement in working activities, so the important factor is implementation of tele-work principles for disabled persons, indoctrinating them different opportunities of virtual world. Spread of new information technologies changing character of works their quantity, quality, specification of in-service work.

New attitude admits the disabled person as equality member of society, only having special requirements [4]. This means that society developed from compassion to real social integration.
Social integration of disabled persons is process of wide spread seeking that disabled persons could live full-rate life, have equal opportunities and rights. Work plays a very important role in disabled persons life and unemployment is more painful. K.Shartz and others [5] state that more than two thirds of unemployed persons have intention to work.
Obligations of the EU for disabled persons are implemented leading by attitude at disability based not on passive conception of help, but on integration idea and active participation in economic and social life.
Council directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation [6] states the responsibility fighting discrimination that could disturb social and economical gathering of the EU. The fifth article of aforementioned directive is the most important for disabled persons, this article forecasts reasonable accommodation for disabled persons: In order to guarantee compliance with the principle of equal treatment in relation to persons with disabilities, reasonable accommodation shall be provided. This means that employers shall take appropriate measures, where needed in a particular case, to enable a person with a disability to have access to, participate in, or advance in employment, or to undergo training, unless such measures would impose a disproportionate burden on the employer. Till 2006 all member-states transformed this directive to national law.
The majority of member-states admit that disabled persons are one of the most disadvantaged social groups. According to EU priorities, they accomplish activities and programmes for improving of disabled persons opportunities on open labour market. There are more and more favourable measures for disabled persons being implemented, but till now it isnt connected with wider strategies of employment as stated in National reforms programmes [7].
Development of science and technologies and other social and economical factors increase joblessness, fuel problems of employment. Poor participation of disabled persons in labour market is influenced by different (connected with discrimination, both unconnected) difficulties.
New technologies could support reintegration of disabled persons to work, afford to adapt working places, conditions and surrounding. Adapted for disabled working place and surrounding, new technologies, especially information and connection technologies, supply the opportunity of adaptation for persons with disability. M. Hirst [8] recommends the strategies for disabled persons employment and supply on work: consumption of new technologies that could help choice of connection; management of information and deflection; support of others disabled persons, application of flexible work.

Working time and space changes connect with development of working functions and forms of employment in information society. Spread of new information technologies changes character of work its quantity, quality, specification of accomplishing work. ICT let employee not to be bound to working place and time. Standard model of employment (full working day performing, clearly stated professional tasks and inclusive model of career) is being replaced with flexible working model. Person can change work of total employment to partly employment, work at office to work at home.
ICT could create opportunities of social inclusion for specific groups. The most of managers of ICT are certain that application of ICT increases opportunities of employment for disabled persons. New technologies help to improve quality of disabled persons life, to increase their involvement in social life.
Development of information technologies is proceeding rapidly, and I order that the last achievements in information technologies field would be adapted for disabled persons, state and grand investors employers should participate in helping to buy newest software and special technical equipment for disabled persons.

During rapid development of information technologies, the social and economical surrounding is changing, new opportunities are coming, so character of work is changing, and new working forms are coming. Today it is easier to move work to employee, not opposite. Also, if it is properly implemented, flexible, and independent from place and mobile work, it could reduce costs essentially, increase productivity and be useful for employers, customers and workers.
Telework occurs when information and communication technologies (ICT) are applied to enable work to be done at a distance from the place where the work results are needed or where the work would conventionally have been done. It includes: home-based telework or telecommuting, when an employee or contractor works at home instead of travelling to an employer's or a customer's premises; mobile telework, when executives, professionals or service staffs using ICT to enable them to spend more time with customers and to deliver on the road a range of services and capabilities that previously would have involved office based staff or visits to the company offices; telecentres, providing local office facilities for people who prefer not to work at home, but wish to avoid the cost, time and inconvenience of commuting [9].
Modern technologies now let us develop telework, forecasting nearest future, when the internet will be available in any place, telework could become usual working form. Modern connection measures, the internet, supply opportunity to work in any place, including home. Scientists predicate, that telework will develop increasingly, and society will understand its advantages.
Telework we can bring in another way [10]. Telework (distance work) all working time means that worker accomplishes all or almost all duties not in traditional office [10]. It could be work made at home, in customers office or in distance work centres, sometimes coming to main institution for meetings and work planning. This type of distance work could help agencies to keep valuable workers, who cant stay at geographical area of office. Such work is called as professional or outwork. Telework not all working time means that worker accomplishes distance work according to a plan. It could be one or more days per week, every two weeks or some days a month. Episodic or situational distance work means that worker accomplishes distance work irregularly. Work is concentrating beside special project.
Main advantages of telework are increasing of works production, reduction of expenses (costs), reduction of workers rotation, reduction of travel time and expenses, improvement of work and family balance.
Concerning advantages, we both should mention the dangers and problems, since telework isnt used enough. Employers are afraid of losing control over employees work. Workers are afraid of social isolation, they arent sure if they will be able to adapt to the new working pace. An important question is if they have enough space at home.
Analysing the Global Competitiveness Indexs [11] connection with indexes of information technology development in thirty different European countries and connection with telework implementations level we established strong correlation of Global Competitiveness Index with IT Usage Component Index (r=0,846), with IT Individual Usage Index (r=0,899), very strong correlation with IT Business Usage Index (r=0,925). Medium correlation is between Global Competitiveness Index and Internet users level (r=0,726), the same is with level of telework development in country (r =0,545). This shows importance of development of information technologies for competitiveness of state, both positive influence of telework on economy and labour market of state.
But analysing development of telework and level of usage of computers at work, we can predicate that only little medium correlation is between these factors (r=0, 406). Map of these connections see on Figure 1.

Figure 1. Map of usage of computers at work distance work at home (1 Bulgaria, 2- Romania, 3 Portugal, 4 Malta, 5 Hungary, 6 -Italy, 7 - Cyprus, 8 - Ireland, 9 -France, 10 - Greece, 11 Lithuania, 12 - Poland, 13 - Luxembourg, 14 - Switzerland, 15 - Spain, 16 - Slovenia, 17 - Germany, 18 - United Kingdom, 19 - Sweden, 20 - Slovakia, 21 - Norway, 22 - Finland, 23 - Latvia, 24 - Netherlands, 25 - Austria, 26 - Estonia, 27 - Belgium, 28 - Denmark, 29 - Croatia, 30 Czech Republic)
Source: Fourth European Working Conditions Survey

Telework in particular circumstances would compose positive opportunity of choice for disabled people. This is very important for persons, who became disabled after they got qualification and competence, and create safe identity in their working field. This could be persons with disseminated sclerosis, who need often to have rest, persons with dorsums trauma, persons with bad allergy, and persons with particular physiological diseases as pathological fear.
Telework is useful for persons with very heavy physical disability, who cant go outside their home (for example, disabled persons with hard injuries of backbone); for persons who have chronicle disease and suffer from periodical exacerbations (for example, persons with very heavy asthma or rheumatoid arthritis); for persons with easy and medium mental disability, who can use telework for creation similarity to previous work in open market; for tenders of disabled persons, whose duties cant let them to be out for longer time.
Telework has its limits. One of the most spread problems is isolation of person from contacts with other persons. Without support of colleagues, disabled teleworker could suffer from the lack of motivation. Telecenters, opposite to work at home, would be more suitable choice for most of disabled persons, who decide to telework.
For the majority of teleworkers work at home is comfortable. For disabled persons it is revolution of independence. Opportunity of telework expands circle of abilities and available work. This is way to autonomy, membership of society and dignity.
We analyse opinion of some part of disabled persons concerning telework. Helping centres of development of enterprises for disabled persons we questioned 123 disabled persons from different Lithuania cities (59 males and 64 females from 20 till 65 years). 20 % of respondents have higher education, 22 % - further education, others secondary and professional secondary education. Only 10 % of respondents havent competence in work with a computer. Analysis of questionnaire results indicates that more than a half of respondents have a computer and internet connection at home, know what telework is and think that such way of work is acceptable for them (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Attitude of disabled persons to telework

Comparing with global surrounding Lithuania has limited resources. Humans in such situation become essential source of development that can secure long-term economical development and improvement of quality of life. Resources of humans, skilled labour force become one of the most important limit of development of Lithuanian economy; this factor will become more and more important in future. So it is important to mobilise all employable Lithuanian citizens, to stimulate them to participate in economic activity (actively integrate in labour market and be there as long as possible) and in social life. Since demand of labour force clearly exceeds supply, there is important not quantitative but qualitative aspect of working place. Thus according to such attitude, it is important to create as much new better working places in Lithuanian economy as possible.
Lithuanian national common strategy [12] forecasts that using active preventive regulation means of labour market, it would be stimulating the increasing of employments opportunities (to create special measures for persons, for whom mostly risk of social disjuncture threatens), enterprise, professional and geographical mobility, stimulating companies of career planning and consulting, helping to adapt to labour market, implementing other actual measures.
Seeking the established in development vision comprehensiveness (i.e. benefit of development should be available for all Lithuanian citizens), additional attention would be paid on measures helping to overcome social disjuncture, stimulating preparation of different target groups (for example, disabled persons, socially vulnerable or isolated persons) for labour market and integration in it.

Level of modern ICT technologies allows applying new, flexible forms of work organisation, such as telework. Accomplished correlational analysis indicates medium positive correlation between Global Competitiveness Index and development level of telework in state; it shows positive influence of telework development on Lithuanian economy.
Programming documents of the European Union and Lithuania, the social integration policy of disabled persons polarized on persons abilities, stimulating of autonomy, help for wishful to work and to earn. Seeking to increase employment of disabled persons we should follow coherent attitude to apply flexible work model, support employment and active inclusion. One of the means for reduction of social disjuncture of disabled persons is their involvement in telework and e-commerce. These working forms help to reduce psychological tension of disabled persons, because it allows loose working schedule and refusing the troublesome trip to work.
Accomplished research lets to predicate, that some part of disabled persons in Lithuania have enough computer literacy, have computers and the internet at home and have positive attitude towards opportunities of telework.

1. A year of delivery. Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council. Implementing the Renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. COM(2006) 816 final
2. Recommendation for a Council Recommendation on the 2007 up-date of the broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and the Community and on the implementation of Member States' employment policies. Council of the European Union, Brussels, 15 March 2007, 7456/07
3. Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on Social cohesion: fleshing out a European social model. 2006/C 309/25, (visited 2008 06 06).
4. Woodward T., Day R. Disability disclosure: a case of understatement?. Journal compilation, 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, (visited 2007 11 09).
5. Schartz K., Schartz H.A., Blanck P. Employment of Persons with Disabilities in Informatikon Technology Jobs: Literature Review for IT Works. Behavioural Sciences & the Law, Volume 20, Issue 6, Date: November/December 2002, Pages: 637-657, p.639.
6. Council directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, (visited 2008 06 06).
7. Situation of disabled people in the European Union: the European Action Plan 2008-2009. Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and The Committee of The Regions. COM(2007) 738 final
8. Hirst M., Thornton P., Dearey M., Campbell S.M.. The Employment of Disabled People in the Public Sector: A Review of Data and Literature. Disability Right Commission, 2004, 141, (visited 2007 10 03).
9. (visited 2008 06 06).
10. Telework: A Management Priority. A Guide for Managers, Supervisors, and Telework Coordinators. U.S. Office of Personnel Management May 2003,  (visited 2007 10 06).
11. World Economic Forum, (visited 2008 06 06).
12. National common strategy: strategy of usage of EU structural support of Lithuanian in 20072013 (visited 2008 02 12).

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