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The ILO will increase its efforts to advocate access to adequate skills development opportunities for disabled persons, in the coming years, as part of the process of implementing these international standards. To provide a solid knowledge base for these activities, a literature review of skills development initiatives targeting persons with disabilities was commissioned, focusing in particular on the contribution of skills development to enhancing the productivity of disabled persons. It is hoped that the review will contribute to opening opportunities for disabled persons to acquire skills which will lead them to obtaining and keeping decent work.

Tony Powers of Powers and Associates (Australia) was the author of this working paper. The research was guided by Barbara Murray, Senior Specialist on Disability, Jo-Ann Bakker edited and prepared the manuscript for publication. The research was conducted as part of the preparation of the report for the General Discussion on Skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development at the 97th session of the International Labour Conference (2008).

This working paper reviews the available evidence connecting the employment and economic status of disabled persons with their skills and productivity. It examines skills development strategies and their effect on employment, income-generation and productivity in both the formal and informal sectors in developed and developing countries. It also considers the impact of policies and practices designed to assist disabled people to achieve their productivity potential at work, including workplace accommodations and teleworking. It includes a number of illustrative case studies. It concludes with key policy messages which emerge from the literature review.