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Optiwork Decision Support Tool

German EU Presidency 2007

2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All

Diversity at work


Improving Disabled People's Employment ProspectsWelcome to the Opti-Work Web Site. This web site has been developed within the context of the Opti-Work (Optimising Strategies for Integrating People with Disabilities into Work) Project.

Within this site you will not only find information about Opti-Work but also a comprehensive repository with information about disability and employment issues. Our goal is to act as a resource centre – so if you are a network, an interest group, a company, an academic, an NGO etc. and would like to suggest a knowledge bank item, a link or an event that we could publish on the site, please complete the Members Registration Form.

Membership is a FREE service that will also enable you to take part in the interactive elements of the site such as comments and posting any questions.

If you would like further information about the Members Service please contact our editor.

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OPTIWORK Invitational Conference, Brussels, Belgium

The OPTIWORK project has just completed its invitation only policy makers conference which was held at the Bibliothèque Solvay Brussels - on the 10th of October 2007.

66 people attended the Conference who came from a range of professional backgrounds across Europe in addition to the 20 associated partners of the project. The aim of the Conference was not only to present the OPTIWORK approach but also to begin a process of dialogue between policy makers and other key stakeholders regarding the practical usefulness and feasibility of the approach both for individual Member States as well as at a European level. Presentations associated with the Conference can be found at: The OPTIWORK Conference

The first presentation by Nigel Meager of the Institute of Employment Studies in the UK outlined the labour market difficulties faced by people with disabilities across Europe. Despite limitations in data, it is clear that people with disabilities are at a severe disadvantage in the labour market.

Dr. David McDaid from the LSE in the UK followed by outlining the Optiwork approach to assessing the costs and benefits of policy change in the area. He pointed to the major costs associated with the status quo and the potentially beneficial effects to be gained from investing in a range of new interventions. He demonstrated the power of the Optiwork analysis in enabling policy makers to assess the effects of change without having to implement them first.
Donal McAnaney of the Work Research Centre in Ireland presented the overall Optiwork approach. He outlined the methodology of the project and the major outputs of a framework analysis, an employers’ threshold and a job-seekers threshold and their associated tools. He also demonstrated the Decision Support Tool for policy makers.

After lunch, a set of workshops were held with policy makers and the results of these were reported on my Jan Spooren from EPR in Belgium. These workshops sought to address questions concerning the applicability of the Optiwork approach and toolset. Participants were generally in agreement that the approach was innovative and feasible and that it represented a worthwhile addition to the approaches typically used by policy makers.

A panel discussion addressing the key issues affecting the employment of people with disabilities was chaired by Rob Anderson of the European Foundation in which the participants were Wallis Goelen from the European Commission Disability Unit, Carlotta Besozzi of the European Disability Forum, Susan Scott Parker of the Employers Forum for Disability and David McDaid from the LSE. The debate here covered issues such as the roles to be played by employers, services and Governments. It was widely acknowledged that current policy approaches have not been very successful, as employment rates have not changed as much as had been hoped as a result of policy initiatives in the area.

The closing remarks on the conferences were made by Richard Wynne of the WRC who pointed to the innovative nature of the Optiwork approach and its power to transform the analysis of policy from a uni-dimensional to a multi-dimensional process.