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Jim Crowe, Director of Learning Disability Wales and President of the EASPD, highlights how a new global conference on supported employment, which takes place in Belfast this week, is aiming to unlock employment for disabled people across the world.

I am making last minute preparations to travel to Belfast tomorrow for ‘Employment for All – A Global Perspective, the First World Conference on Supported Employment’. This important conference – the first of its kind – is being hosted by EUSE (European Union of Supported Employment) and EASPD (European Association of Service Providers of Persons with Disabilities), and has been organised by the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment (NIUSE).

The conference will explore how we can achieve the full inclusion of disabled people in the open labour market. The debate will focus on the implementation of article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (equal access to work and employment), and will cover a variety of themes, including legal frameworks around the world, and practical tools and ways to better reach and engage with employers.

As President of EASPD it is my honour to be Co-Chairing the conference and I am looking forward to welcoming 650 delegates from five continents to Belfast. I am particularly proud that the research team from our Engage to Change project will be delivering a workshop.

Two major events will mark the conference: the launch of the World Association of Supported Employment on Wednesday 14th June, and the ‘Employment for All Awards’ Final Ceremony at the iconic Titanic Experience building on June 15th. At the last ‘Employment for All Awards’ in Zadar, Croatia, our very own Elite Supported Employment Agency were the winners. This time the successful winners will be chosen from over 60 applications from across Europe.

The conference’s final conclusions will include a commitment to implement the findings of the event and to further promote a fully inclusive labour market. You can follow updates from the conference on social media using the #EmploymentForAll hashtag. I will report further in the coming weeks on the outcomes and next steps of this exciting event.

I am looking forward to a hectic, but inspiring and challenging few days and hope that there may be an opportunity at the end of each day to enjoy a real Irish welcome!

Jim Crowe, Director, Learning Disability Wales, and President, EASPD