Presentation by Holger Jensen for the Deaf Enterprise consortium, Castberggaard, 25 May 2017
In Denmark, the support for people looking for jobs is decentralised; it is the responsibility of the municipalities. Denmark, with a population of 5.700.000 has 98 municipalities.
The number of deaf people in Demark is estimated to be 4.000.
The Jobcenter at Castberggaard is the national expertise centre with respect to the employment of deaf, hard of hearing (hoh) and deaf-blind (db) people; it is funded by the national government. By the Ministry of Employment and the Ministry of Education.
The Jobcenter is located at Castberggaard, Urlev (Jutland), and has a department at Copenhagen. At People can stay overnight at Castberggaard, where all people know sign language. The Jobcenter at Castberggaard has 18 employees. Holger Jensen is the director.
The Jobcenter has several tasks:
- To support and inform the regional job centres: to teach the professionals working at these centres about the needs of deaf, hoh and db people, and to provide them with the information and training that they need. Most of the persons working at the regional job centres know nothing about deafness, or about the support that deaf employees may need. It is important to keep informing them – at least every 2 months because people forget.
- To support individual deaf job seekers in job-finding and job-keeping: with information, by expanding their networks, by helping with job applications, by providing the training they need.
- To support and inform employers of deaf, hoh and db people.
- To provide training and support for Deaf asylum seekers.
- To document and monitor the situation of deaf, hoh and db people on the labour market.
At the moment, it is estimated that 40-50% of deaf people in Denmark are unemployed. Only 4 years ago, it was 50-60 % but Denmark’s economy is booming, with very low unemployment rates as a result: only 4% for the general population.
In Denmark, it is quite easy to change jobs; job mobility of hearing employees is high. Every year, 20% of Danes change jobs. For deaf people, this makes finding – and keeping – a job often more difficult.
It is estimated that 60% of the deaf people looking for jobs find a job through their personal networks.
To improve the chances for deaf people of finding – and keeping – a job, it is essential to make the distance between the employer and the deaf person as small as possible. This can be done by, on the one hand, establishing close contacts with companies, informing the employer about deaf culture and sign language and on the other hand: by informing the deaf person about hearing culture, hearing expectations.
For employers, it is very important to meet the deaf job applicant in person. For the deaf applicant, it is very important to be well prepared for a job application, to know about the law, to be aware of ‘hearing’ expectations, to be on time, etc.
When an employer considers ending the contract of a Deaf employee, for whatever reason, the employer is advised to first contact the Jobcenter. Very often the Jobcenter can prevent the termination of the contract of a Deaf employee, especially if they are contacted at an early stage.
Education is very important to help deaf people find – and keep - jobs. In the past, few deaf people had access to higher education. Now, deaf people are better educated and this increases their employability. In the long run, better education saves the government money: by investing in the education of deaf people, more persons are able to find and keep jobs, pay taxes, and as a result: need less financial or other support.