D-WISE Network Second Bi-Annual Member’s Meeting 2022
17 Feb 2023

On Wednesday 14 December 2022, the D-WISE network met online for its second bi-annual meeting for 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on the Network’s workplan for 2023, exchange on the national state of play of legislation affecting WISEs in Europe, and to update members on European initiatives that they can contribute to. The network also welcomed ADV Romania in its membership.

The meeting commenced with opening remarks by Javier Güemes (Director of International Affairs of the ONCE Social Group), who welcomed a new member in the D-WISE network, ADV Romania, and further highlighted the importance of on-going policy developments in the sector of employment for persons with disabilities.

ADV Romania also had the opportunity to present itself and its work to the D-WISE network members and partners, as one of the biggest social enterprises in Romania. Elena Vasiliu (Communication and Marketing Expert of ADV Romania) discussed ADV Romania’s extensive project list, contributing to the enterprise being a one-stop-shop enabling disadvantaged individuals to access social, psychological, professional, employment and workplace assistance services.

Sabina Lobato (Director of Training and Employment of the ONCE Foundation) presented the work plan of the network for 2023, which includes upcoming case studies of Finland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, country visits with the potential new members, and extensive advocacy and outreach to European institutions towards better inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market. The Members of the network also gave their input and priorities for 2023.

Further, Members had the opportunity to exchange on the national state of play of legislation affecting WISEs across their home Member States, elaborating on the policy issues faced across Europe, and identifying similarities and differences across the EU. Many highlighted political uncertainty, lack of funding opportunities, the need to upskill and reskill, as well as the lack of prioritisation of employment and labour policies in their governments' agendas as key issues currently faced by the sector on a national level.

The Members exchanged on the published initiatives of the European Commission’s Disability Employment Package: the Council Conclusions on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labour market (available via the link here), adopted by the Council of the EU on 8 December, the European Commission’s Practitioner toolkit on strengthening PES to improve the labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities (available here), and the Commission’s Webinar on Improving labour market access for people with disabilities (available here).

Lastly, the D-WISE Secretariat also informed the Members of the upcoming opportunities in the first quarter of 2023, including a catalogue of positive actions to facilitate hiring of persons with disabilities involving employers which will also address measures such as awareness raising in relation to the abilities, talents and the potential of persons with disabilities, coordinated information, financial and other support for employers, in particular for SMEs, published by the European Commission.

The next meeting of the network will take place in the Spring of 2023 (date TBC).