ZDIS - FIMITIC International Employability Conference 2009

In the frame of the 40 year´s anniversary of ZDIS, the Federation of Disabled Workers of Slovenia which theme was »DISABLED WORKERS –CREATORS OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES« an international conference on employability was organized with the contribution of FIMITIC at Spa Topolšica, in Slovenia, on 18 September 2009.


The conference was held in beautiful surroundings in a small town among high mountains with fresh air and green forests. Spa Topolšica is located in the northern part of Slovenia at about 80 km distance from Ljubljana. It is a friendly little place in a subalpine region sheltered by the Karavanke Mountains and the Savinja Alps. The gentle subalpine climate is complemented by the pleasant, soft atmosphere that characterizes the health resort and its immediate surroundings. The healing water of Topolšica was discovered in the 16th century, the reputation of its beneficial effect spread, and in 1838 a health resort was opened for the general public. The end of the century was marked by the beginnings of medical activity, the health resort developed, and by the turn of the century, a program of professionally guided physical and dietary healing had been introduced. Today, along with specialized medical services, Terme Topolšica offers all the necessary facilities for business meetings and a modern way of relaxation and recreation.

The conference was opened by Drago Novak, President of the Federation of Disabled Workers of Slovenia, then dr. Ivan Svetlik, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs made his address. On behalf of FIMITIC Marija Stiglic, Honorary President gave the FIMITIC gold medal to Cveto Ursic, General Director of Directorate for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of labour, Family and Social Affairs of Slovenia, in recognition of his extraordinary personal contribution for promotion of civil rights of persons with disabilities and of continuous efforts to integrate persons with disabilities in work, vocational training and society on national and international level as well as for it fight for improvements in the legislation of the socio-political field. After the addresses Cveto Ursic spoke about the Slovene state of employment Then the expert speakers from the FIMITIC member associations made their presentations about the state of employment and good practices of employment for people with disabilities in their countries.

As the title of the conference said, there were a lot of good examples of employment but unfortunately there were facts of hard states in some countries. There were speakers from different countries in Europe, from Austria, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and Slovakia. The presentations were very interesting with several pictures, charts. They showed how the employment of people with disability could be solved in different countries. The participants heard about regulations by governments, helpful employers, enterprises and associations, which provide opportunity to work beyond several services, and assistances to people with disabilities.

The participants learned that the economic crisis does not influence the countries in the same way.

Conference presentations were given by:

The conclusions of the conference are as follows:

Integration of disability organisations at the international level is paramount for joint action in the area of disability policy (dissemination of information, joint appearance, demonstrations of examples of good practice);

Examples of good practice presented by the participating countries of Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Spain clearly show that despite the times of the economic crisis and recession, there are still realistic possibilities for both the adaptation of the existing programmes geared towards maintaining employment of people with disabilities as well as for the development of new ones;

Furthermore, the examples of good practice presented are significant because they confirm  that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is not a dead letter but rather a document with substance that can be implemented in practice;

Maintaining and creating conditions for people with disabilities to remain employed is one of the fundamental activities preventing discrimination of the disabled;

The times of the economic crisis and recession can be exploited for creating and seizing completely new opportunities to mobilize people with disabilities who can set themselves new goals and more resolutely adopt an active role in maintaining or searching for employment, thus turning disability into a new opportunity;

People with disabilities should be empowered (trained and educated) so that they may be safe from dismissals, and capable of actively maintaining employment and equal position on the labour market; 

The economic crisis and recession is affording disability organisations, other NGOs, institutions and the Government the opportunity to establish closer ties with employers, motivate them, equip them with the relevant knowledge and provide them with expert assistance so that they may act as partners who rather than dismiss disabled workers promote their non-discriminatory and equal inclusion in processes of resolving the situation arising from the economic crisis;

The Federation of Disabled Workers of Slovenia and FIMITIC wished that the conference entitled "Examples of good practice and innovative measures to maintain employment of disabled workers in the present economic crisis" should initiate the process of lasting integration and the exchange of good practices among national stakeholders or at the international level on how people with disabilities can find or maintain their employment, thus allowing people with disabilities to make an innovative contribution to the resolution of the economic crisis;

The precondition for affecting any change of conduct, thus also in relation to the employment of people with disabilities, is the recognition of their needs on the one hand and their abilities on the other; knowing not only what people with disabilities need in order to equally participate in work and life, but even more importantly, what they have to offer to themselves, their families and the broader social environment through their work.


We hope that this conference will reach the aim and can help to develop and maintain employment for people with disability in every country in this hard period and at all times.