New Perspectives for the Disabled

More and more companies in Lithuania are seeking to employ disabled people, despite additional costs of adapting the working environment. The effort is made easier by special employment intermediaries, according to a report by

Only a third of disabled people in Lithuania are employed. Experts claim that additional measures are needed to encourage their successful integration into the labour market. One of the proposed solutions has been to build a wider network of employment intermediaries.

SOPA Director Jurgita Kuprytė

Employment intermediaries from VĮ SOPA, established in Vilnius in 2006, work with people who have difficulties finding a job. Jurgita Kuprytė, founder and head of SOPA explains that specialists hold sessions with their clients several times a week, sometimes every day. The client’s skills and suitable workplaces are identified not only through discussions, but also through various simulations and tasks.

Employment intermediaries continue to provide support even once the person is hired – help them with specific problems at work or teach them skills needed for the job.

According to Kuprytė, more and more businesses approach the agency looking to hire disabled people. Companies employing disabled people can apply for subsidies from the Employment Service, although not all of them do.

Advantages of the intermediary programme, Kuprytė says, include helping people out of poverty and reducing social exlusion which, she notes, is a much bigger problem among disabled people. Being employed also helps disabled people build self-confidence, as they are able to more fully participate in the society.

The state saves funds by investing into intermediaries and employing disabled people, since they then contribute as taxpayers. People with mental conditions are less likely to need hospitalization when they’re employed. Benefits also include more tolerance and understanding among a company’s staff.

Services of employment intermediaries are widely available in Western European countries. They are systematically provided, and funded by the state, which is not yet the case in Lithuania.

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Photo: SOPA logo