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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Labor Department to Hold Conference with European Union on Employment of People with Disabilities [10/23/1998]

For more information call: (202) 219-6373 ext. 4

Continuing its efforts to address employability in the global economy, the Department of Labor (DOL) will co-host a conference with the European Union on the use of information and communication technologies to expand employment of people with disabilities. The conference is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Madrid, Spain.

"The challenge of the global economy is for governments to harness the talent of its workers and to find new ways to prepare its workforce for the economic, social and technological changes on the horizon," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "We know workers with disabilities will be more needed in the next decade and with technological advances we have greater opportunities to make use of their abilities and energy. By the same token, with these technological gains they can have a better chance to get into the mainstream economy. This international meeting permits us to proactively meet these changes."

The conference combines DOL efforts on labor issues agreed to under the New Transatlantic Agenda and the work of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities chaired by Secretary Herman.

Tony Coelho will lead the U.S. delegation. He is chairman of the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities and vice chairman of the Presidential Task Force headed up by Secretary Herman. Representatives from private industry, labor unions, DOL and other federal agencies will attend.

"Problems and solutions in the global economy must be viewed from a multinational perspective. Collaboration with our colleagues in the European Union is essential and welcome. We are most anxious to share information on practical solutions which have produced concrete results and also to learn about other countries' successes. We need to explore the best uses of all human resources," said Coelho.

The Madrid conference will focus on the best practices which have produced tangible results in increasing the employment rates of people with disabilities in the U.S. and the member countries of the European Union. Conference goals are to: identify technologies; determine why they succeeded; and, propose ways in which the technologies could further support increased employment levels. Agenda topics will include equal opportunity to work, universal design in information technology, incentives and disincentives to work, structure of government support benefits and self-employment. The organizers intend to have a conference featuring practical examples of private and public programs which actually raised employment rates for people with disabilities. Two of the featured U.S. programs will be the national, community-based High School / High Tech program and Ideal of NCR.

This conference is an initiative of the working group on employment issues set up under the New Transatlantic Agenda. The agenda, signed in December 1995 by the United States and the European Union, calls for, among other matters, cooperation between the parties in the field of jobs and growth. In particular, the areas targeted by the working group include new forms of labor-management cooperation; increased investment in human resources; smoothing the transition from school to work and from job to job; active labor market policies and the relationship between work and welfare; employment and new technologies; and encouraging entrepreneuralism.

Information on the US/EU conference can be found on the Web at

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
October 23, 1998
Media Contact: David Roberts
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