This project was made for the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU. It investigated the effects of digitalisation – both opportunities and challenges – on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labour market. It examined digitalisation through two complementary case studies. Case study one looked at the challenges and risks associated with digitalisation on people with disabilities in Austria, while case study two focused on the challenges and risks of platform work for people with disabilities in the EU.
The desk research included a review of legal texts, strategy plans, and other official documents from governments and intergovernmental bodies. Additionally, the desk research included a detailed review of academic literature and “grey literature”, such as position statements from NGOs or other stakeholder groups.
Stakeholder consultation included semi-structured interviews conducted face-to-face or via telephone. The research team prepared separate questionnaires for each case study based on important policy issues and gaps in knowledge identified in the desk research. All interviews were conducted anonymously.
The strategies for identifying interviewees were slightly different between the two case studies. For CS1, the Austrian Social Ministry provided a list of individuals and organisations of relevance to the research. For CS2, the research team identified all interviewees. This included representatives of platforms, people with disabilities working on platforms, and labour market experts specialised in inclusion of people with disabilities.
The case studies have found that the effects of digitalisation and platform work on labour market inclusion for people with disabilities are quite difficult to generalise, largely due to the substantial differences between people with disabilities. While all women and men with disabilities are often grouped into the same category for convenience, their needs and strengths are very different. These differences require careful assessment and tailored policies to result in successful inclusion initiatives.
In spite of these differences, the desk research and interviews found that digitalisation has significant potential to improve labour market inclusion, even while creating several important risk factors. On balance, it seemed that the trends of digitalisation, including platform work, provide new tools for policy-makers to leverage, and new chances for people with disabilities to empower themselves.