Active inclusion of young people with health problems or disabilities in 11 EU-Member States

Thursday, October 31, 2013
First author:
Edwin L. de Vos
Work as Catalyst for Belonging

CHAMP Advies & Onderzoek, Almere, The Netherlands

All authors:

Edwin L. de Vos

Inclusive Employment
Young people with Disabilities; Active inclusion policies and practices; Good practices; Transition to Employment


The study is based on a research project for the European Foundation for the improvement of working and living conditions (EuroFound), the country report on Active inclusion of young people with disabilities in the Netherlands ( and the EuroFound (2012) overall report ( 

The study on behalf of EuroFound examines the situation of young people with health problems or disabilities in 11 countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and at EU level, with an emphasis on assessing the implementation of active inclusion policy at national level. Active inclusion policy seeks to integrate measures in relation to four pillars – adequate income, inclusive labour markets, access to Life Long learning and access to quality services – for people furthest from the labour market. The main aim of the research is to see how the policy has been implemented to move young people with health problems or disabilities from inactivity into employment.


Country reports were produced by researchers in each of the 11 countries on the basis of desk research, selected good practices and interviews. Forty-four diverse and innovative case studies of good practice are analyzed in the overall report to distil the characteristics of service providers, their experiences and the success factors underlying their projects to formulate conclusions that are applicable across the EU. Some of the case studies are dedicated to mental health, a growing concern in the majority of countries that were studied.


Young people with health problems or disabilities in the EU have difficulty accessing employment. The limited information available on this group points to very low employment rates and increasing numbers taking up disability and other benefits, either directly from school or early in their working lives. Statistics on the extent of this group are difficult to find – employment statistics do not document the health status of young people, while health or disability statistics do not easily yield information on the employment status of young people. A range of policies at EU level are relevant to the situation of young people with health problems or disabilities, but most significant is active inclusion that integrates measures in relation to the four pillars.


Active inclusion policies have limited reference to these young people if, alongside the pillars of adequate income, inclusive labour markets, and access to quality services, it excludes the pillar of education and lifelong learning. Education is a crucial domain for young people facing the transition into employment. Other relevant policies such as those concerned with employment, discrimination and people with disabilities are also potentially relevant, but in most Member States don’t specifically target young people with health problems or disabilities.

In the Member States there is a trend towards dealing with the needs of people with health problems or disabilities in mainstream rather than specialist services. Sheltered services still have an important role in a number of countries. Focusing on transitions from schools-based to employment-based systems is an important and productive way of addressing the problems of these young people.