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May 2008 "Protection of Labor Rights of Youth with Special Needs"

During the period August 1, 2007 - March 2008, HDP implemented “Protection of Labor Rights of Youth with Special Needs” project, funded by KAP Matra Small Grants Program (Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) in three communities in Yerevan and Echmiadzin, Armenia.

Employment is extremely limited or unavailable for youth with special needs in Armenia. Only a tiny fraction of people with disabilities who are capable of working are actually employed due to variety of factors: perceptions that people with disabilities are unemployable, restrictive and discriminatory labor laws, reluctance of employers to hire youth with special needs – they all effectively promote unemployment for people with disabilities.

The project goal was to promote the labor rights and job opportunities of youth with disabilities in target regions of Armenia and thus enhance their social and economic inclusion. Several interrelated activities were carried out to promote and reach the project goal, including:


Round table discussions were held in all target communities with major stakeholders, such as Employment Centers and labor agencies, employers, organizations working with disabled youth on similar issues and the beneficiaries in order to mobilize these key players, decision and policy makers and raise their awareness on employment issues for the disabled. It was also to generate their feedback on employment related issues, challenges and opportunities.
Cooperation with Employment Centers: this was an integral part of this activity, the output of which was updating the lists of youth with disabilities in their lists; identifying jobs available for youth with special needs and conveying this data for disabled job seekers; including the names of project beneficiaries in the job seekers’ lists within the Centers and holding a joint Final Conference.
As part of the Advocacy & Awareness training, HDP organized Self-advocacy groups comprised of active disabled youth in target areas who then participated in 3-day trainings on advocacy and awareness for 40 disabled youth and their family members. During the training the legal expert focused on legal aspects of their employment rights, legislation on employment and the provisions that provide some incentives for the employers to hire disabled youth. In the second part the Advocacy expert trained the participants the basic advocacy skills along with very practical knowledge and tips as to how advocate for and protect their employment rights with different labor agencies and the like. To raise the awareness of not only the target population but also a wider audience, HDP published 500 copies of “Let’s know and protect our rights” information brochure, which elaborated, in a popular language, the key issues regarding the employment rights of disabled people.

The Final conference was organized jointly by HDP and Yerevan Central Employment Center: Employment Challenges; cooperation between local/national government and civic society.” It is noteworthy, that the Central Employment Center of Yerevan approached HDP Foundation requesting to conduct a joint conference: they share many of the concerns and approaches that HDP was trying to pursue through its activities that aim to provide better job opportunities for the youth with disabilities. The Conference generated a lot of interest as over 60 representatives from the Ministry of Social Welfare, several Employment Centers, local government representatives, many organizations and disabled people participated in this conference. It summarized all major findings, discussed local and international best practices with employment for the disabled and concrete recommendations were presented to key stakeholders regarding policy changes at national level.

To sum, this 7-month, short term project reached its goals, worked with several Employment Centers both in Yerevan and outside. Based on lessons learned from this activity, HDP is planning to further this issue by working with specific group of stakeholders – employers, in it efforts to create better incentives for them to hire disabled. Also, HDP plans to provide basic job hunting skills to disabled youth so have the capacity to be more competitive in the labor market.



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