Developing a Quality Workforce in Disability Services: emerging needs and opportunities

Annual Conference 2019 – Helsinki

Developing a Quality Workforce in Disability Services: emerging needs and opportunities

Helsinki, 3-4 October 2019

Aim of the Conference

The conference “Workforce Development in Disability Services: emerging needs and opportunities” will focus on the topics of ­­­­­­­­­­­­­ recruitment, retention and training of social care & support workforce in the context of the growing demand for service delivery in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Conference participants will discuss and share best practices on how to manage human resources to facilitate the implementation of the UN CRPD.

The conference will be organised in a way that addresses the following 3 key questions:

  1. Where to find staff?
    1. EU perspective: Mobility of workers, recognition of qualifications
    2. Migration: effects on sender countries and receiving countries)
    3. Hiring methods: how to identify the right people? Best practices from countries outside the EU? From other sectors?
  2. How to train your staff?
    1. Internal training for staff
    2. External training for staff
    3. Training for management
    4. Transfer of innovation in training (language, digital skills, empathy, co-creation)
  3. How not to lose your staff?
    1. Organisational culture
    2. Positive working environment
    3. Informing staff of organisational strategies, opportunities
    4. Handling high employee turnover… or low turnover
    5. Flexible working time – new working arrangements to facilitate flexibility of workers and delivery of person-centred service.


Workforce is the greatest asset of an organisation. For service providers for persons with disabilities this is particularly true: to deliver high quality personalised services that address the needs and desires of persons with disabilities, it is important to have a strong care workforce with the right training and skills.
Social care & support has a great job creation potential. In 2016, the share of health & social care in total EU employment was 10.94%, with care workers being the occupation with the largest numbers of people employed within the sector. The need for care workers will continue to grow: in the period 2015-2025, employment for health & social care in EU is projected to change by 7.83%.
Despite the growing demand for labour force in the social care & support sector, service providers find it challenging to find and to keep qualified staff, especially among young people. As this sector is vital for ensuring social inclusion, it is important to implement strategies, both at political & industry level, to create attractive working conditions and job opportunities, as well as to invest in the development of the workforce.
In addition to attracting employees to the sector, service providers also feel the urgent need to train and retain their staff to successfully transition towards the person-centred and community-based approach. As such there is a need to explore new work arrangements and recruitment approaches, as well as practical tools for implementing organisational changes.
Supporting the development of social care & support staff requires a collaborative input of all stakeholders: service providers, employees, service users, policy makers, researchers, etc. The Nuremberg conference aims to bring all these stakeholders together.