State Comptroller Joseph Shapira sharply criticized the government agencies responsible for the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce in a report released on Wednesday.
He cited a “bleak” picture across “all aspects” regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce.
“There is a consensus among all parties involved in the field regarding the importance of employment of people with disabilities and to the contribution – social, rehabilitative and economic – of the inclusion of a person with disabilities,” wrote Shapira. “In contrast, lack of treatment or negligent treatment of people with disabilities can hinder their inclusion in society and in the workforce and perpetuate their dependence on the state.”
According to the report, in 2011 there were some 750,000 people of working age, representing roughly 18 percent of this age group, who said they had medium to severe disabilities.
Of these, 460,000 were recognized as disabled by medical professionals of the National Insurance Institute and 250,000 were eligible for disability allotments.
Furthermore, 51% of people with disabilities were in the workforce in 2011, compared to 74% employment among the population as a whole.
The percentage of people with “severe disabilities” stood at 34%, and of those receiving general disability allowances only 18% were employed.
In 2005, the Laron Committee, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Ephraim Laron, released recommendations with suggestions for improving the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce, which were adopted by the government in 2009.
The state comptroller report found that despite the government’s adoption of the committee’s recommendations, there was only a minor increase in employment among disabled people these past five years.
Furthermore, one of the major recommendations – the establishment of an “integrative body” responsible for coordinating and overseeing all aspects of this issue – had yet to be implemented.
The state comptroller outlined the responsibilities of each ministry: The Welfare and Social Services Ministry is responsible for the treatment of people with physical, sensory, and cognitive-developmental and autism disorders; and the NII is responsible for determining the percentage of disability and disability allowances allocated, as well as the rehabilitation of disabled people into the workforce.
In addition, the unit for integrating people with disabilities into the workforce at the Economy Ministry is responsible for promoting equality in the workplace and encouraging the employers to hire people with disabilities.
“A person with disabilities trying to enter the workforce encounters bureaucratic obstacles from the numerous government ministries and agencies, especially the Welfare and Economy ministries, and the NII responsible for their rehabilitation,” Shapira wrote.
Furthermore, the report indicated that 76% of disabled people who were deemed “fit to work” by medical professionals did not receive any work rehabilitation assistance, despite a need for it.
In 2012, the government allocated some NIS 550 million to the issue of inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce.
Despite this, the state comptroller concluded that the ministries involved continue to act independently and lack any coherent cooperation to formulate an effective solution to the problem.
“These bodies were unable to develop a joint work-language and agreed upon work procedures. The findings indicate that along the years there were attempts to promote mechanisms for cooperation, though at the conclusion of this examination these attempts remained unsuccessful and a clear and agreed upon work outline has yet to be reached,” Shapira said.
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