New and innovative ways of integration into the labour market of the most vulnerable groups need to be explored and tested with the objective to reduce inequalities and promote social inclusion. These vulnerable groups include people discriminated on the basis of disability and health, age, gender, language, racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, civil and family status and religious belonging. As an important basis for this, suitable theoretical inclusion concepts should be identified and developed, such as e.g. interoperable and comparative European indicators and standards. Research should identify barriers for increasing inclusiveness in the labour market, covering elements such as disability and health, age, gender, language, racial or ethnic origin (exploring for example factors such as accent, name or looking biases in hiring contexts), sexual orientation, civil and family status including caring responsibilities (e.g. mothering) and religious belonging, with regard to both quantity and quality of employment. Research activities should take a holistic approach (e.g. taking into account increasing accessibility across-the-board; availability of assistive technologies, the level of provided reasonable accommodation and supported employment for persons with disabilities; developing collective agreements tackling economic, employment and welfare inequality by gender and vulnerable group, and considering also causes originating in the education system).
Research should address the disadvantages and barriers faced, collect data on measures to improve the situation, and provide a thorough analysis of the impact and efficacy of existing policy measures, such as positive discrimination provisions and quotas. For example, in the case of people with disabilities, research should take stock of the reasonable accommodation tools and support provided across Member States and Associated Countries to compile a comprehensive catalogue. Proposals should also include a focus on ethnic/racial discrimination at times of pandemics such as COVID-19, and longer-term implications. Proposals may include also a focus on specific segments of labour markets, like domestic work, care work, courier and delivery services, garbage collection and commercial employees, highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis.
Research should also involve employers, including SMEs, and address their potential concerns. Civil society organisations representing those vulnerable groups, as well as trade unions should also be involved. The role of educational institutions, work integration social enterprises, the family and family associations, supporting the most vulnerable groups on their way towards inclusion in the labour market, should be considered. Where relevant, synergies and complementarities with other projects selected under this topic and under the topic on “Gender and social, economic and cultural empowerment” should be maximised.
Research is also expected to address the issue of social protection against the hazards of labour market. For example, proposals could consider the in and out of employment and the possible compatibility with other benefits, such as disability benefits avoiding the benefit trap.