Photo: Katja Maria Nyman

In Finland there are around 30 000 working-age people with intellectual disabilities. Young people and adults with intellectual disabilities take part in working life in many ways. Only around 500-600 of these persons work with a salary and employment contract.

A majority of the persons in salaried employment have found work through job coaching as part of a supported employment scheme. A considerably higher number of people with intellectual disabilities could enter ordinary salaried employment if they were given the opportunity. There are thousands of people with intellectual disabilities in Finland who have both the training and desire to work for their living. It has been estimated that around 3000 persons with intellectual disabilities could take up salaried work with an employment contract.

Around 6000 persons with intellectual disabilities participate in work activities or activities that support employment in sheltered workshops. More than 2300 persons are in community employment. Community employment means work done at ordinary workplaces, for which the municipality pays an allowance (0-12 euro a day).

Around 5000-6000 people with intellectual disabilities participate in other daytime activities in sheltered workshops or day centres.

FAIDD supports employment

FAIDD supports the employment of young people and adults with intellectual disabilities.

  • We offer information and support on questions regarding employment.
  • We develop services that support employment in cooperation with municipalities and actors in the field.
  • We influence political decision making and the preparation of legislation.
  • We train employees and managers on questions regarding employment.

FAIDD proposes solutions to the employment challenge

Young people and adults with intellectual disabilities want to and are able to do real work. They have the right to be paid for the work they do.

1. Information and support for employers

Employers need more information about how to employ people with intellectual disabilities. In Finland there are two main forms of support to encourage employment, pay subsidy and subsidy for arranging working conditions. The employment opportunities could be enhanced by better financial support for employers. FAIDD helps employers with hiring persons with intellectual disabilities.

2. More job coaches

A majority of people with intellectual disabilities are employed with support from job coaches. The present number of job coaches is too low and there are regional differences in access to job coaching services.

Basic education and further training in job coaching need to be invested in and the approach should be oriented towards working life.

We propose the development of an incentive model that would enable employers to flexibly hire job coaches to their organizations. The resources of persons with partial work capacity who have entered employment should be utilized more effectively as e.g. peer coaches.

3. Making working worthwhile

Most of the people with intellectual disabilities in Finland are on disability pension and would like to work part-time.

A person who receives disability pension is allowed to earn 922.42 euro in a month (2023). If the salary is higher the pension is not paid. For it to be worthwhile for a person with intellectual disability to work s/he has to earn either under 922.42 euro or more than 1 700 euro a month.

In our opinion, it should be easier to combine work and pension. Work always has to be also financially worthwhile, whether it is done on a fulltime or a part-time basis.

4. From community employment towards salaried employment

More than 2000 people with intellectual disabilities work in community employment. They work jobs based in the local community but don’t get any salary for it. Instead, they receive a daily allowance in the average amount of 7 euro a day.

Many organizations offer people with intellectual disabilities work only in the form of community employment instead of supporting their employment in salaried work.

The new law in Finland supporting labor inclusion (TEOS) needs to define the boundary conditions for salaried employment and community employment.

We support a shift from the old community employment system to temporary job training based in the local community. The training should aim at salaried employment for the employee, in the same position.

5. Supported apprenticeship training

Supported apprenticeship training can serve as an effective springboard for work training and employment. Good results have been achieved in other countries with supported apprenticeship schemes, but in Finland the model has been used too scarcely. We hope to see the model of supported apprenticeship training utilized more effectively and inscribed in legislation.

6. Establishing employment of persons with partial work capacity as a criterion in service procurement

We propose that more attention should be paid in the future to the employment of persons with partial work capacity in the procurement of goods and services. This practice has already been taken up by, for example, the City of Vantaa.