Disability and employment : what reality do young people with disabilities face?

This year’s European Disability Employment Week (EDEW) focuses on young people. On the program, topics such as access to learning, higher education and first jobs as well as the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis among these young people.


At the dawn of the 25th edition of the EDEW, the main actors battling for the integration of this collective (AgefiphFIPHFPLADAPTUNMLCNCPH and associations Droit au savoir and 100% Handinamique) have joined forces with the Ifop. Together, they have conducted a survey among 18-30 year olds on the conditions of access to employment for young people with disabilities and the representations of disability at work among this generation.


While this study reveals that young people with disabilities share the same aspirations as all young people regarding their future, it also confirms the existence of obstacles and the need for measures seeking to eliminate discrimination.




Among the highlights of this observatory, we observe that only 39% of young people mention their disability on their CV, against 57% who await the discussion with the recruiter to do so. According to Véronique Bustreel, Director of Innovation at Agefiph, “Many [young people] fear that disability will be a barrier during the first contact. These young people know that this can be a subject of discrimination”.


The question arises when we know that 50% of young people with disabilities claim to have been discriminated against during their job search (this percentage rises to 63% during their school years).


“We still need to improve the question of knowing how to talk about one’s disability during the hiring phase and then about one’s needs once the person has entered the company,” says Sophie Cluzel, Secretary of State for Handicap.


In addition, the job search for young people with disabilities is almost twice as long (7.6 months on average against 4.2 months on average) than for other young people. What are the reasons for this discrepancy? In addition to the discrimination already mentioned, 82% of those questioned believe that the lack of job offers including an accessible work environment adapted to disability persists. This means, people with disabilities have fewer choices among the existing opportunities and must wait longer to find a suitable position.




While all young people at 69% declare that the tasks and missions of the position is the first determining criterion for choosing a job, the other factors differ for young people with disabilities.


Although geographic location is the second determining factor for all young people (61%), it is mentioned by 68% of young people with disabilities, i.e., 7 points more.


Personal and professional life balance follows the lead voted by 65% of the respondents (+14 points vs. young people in general) as do the ethical commitment of the company considered by 42% (again +14) of the participants. Compensation, meanwhile, is relegated to the 5th position mentioned only by 36% of the respondents (-7 points less vs. young people in general). The reason ? Young people with disabilities seem willing to make more wage concessions to find a suitable job.




Once again, if all the young people seem anxious about the same issue, this being forced to accept a position that does not correspond to their expectations or fail to find a position quickly or on time, the rest of fears diverges depending on the situation of the respondent.


Having to take on a position with too much of a workload bothers young people with disabilities more (80% vs. 60% for other respondents), as does having to move or work far from home (72% for people with disabilities vs. 63% for the general population), which justifies the importance they attach to the geographic location of their workplace, as discussed previously.


Ultimately, for these young people, integration is also a source of concern: 71% fear they will encounter difficulties when they arrive at their new company vs. 58% of non-disabled participants.




We talked about discrimination, difficulties and fears but, fortunately, there are also positive highlights: 84% of young people with disabilities consider that their job is suited to their level of qualification as well as to their professional project. For Christophe Roth, President of Agefiph, “there is an urgent need to persuade employers that the inclusion of disabled employees is a winning tactic from all points of view. Once hired, young people with disabilities thrive”.


Regarding integration, according to data from Agefhip and Dares, the number of disabled employees increased by 28% between 2013 and 2018 and 80% of companies now have at least one employee with a disability. Is this data the result of awareness policies, public subsidies, or a combination of the these two?


Young people with disabilities have also benefited from opportunities, since in 2020 the signing of work-study contracts increased by 5%. This development should continue following the aid granted by the government to support the hiring of disabled people on an apprenticeship and professionalisation contract between May 2020 and December 2021.


To end this article on a bright note, let’s take a look at the feelings experienced by the young generation when referring to people with disabilities. Solidarity (54%), sympathy (42%) and admiration (31%) are the words that come up most often. Enough to restore faith in the future!