NYS to make job hunt less difficult for the disabled
Jodi-ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Finding jobs for the disabled could soon be made easier as they are to receive employment opportunities as well as personal-development training under an empowerment programme being undertaken by the National Youth Service (NYS).
The programme, which is to be rolled out in five parishes this month, will, according to Omar Newell, director of community services at the NYS, be an avenue through which growth can be achieved and employment increased.
"We want to kick some doors open and give these young (disabled) people the opportunity to become occupied and experience the world of work as job availability remains very low," Newell declared.
"It is something that we are serious about and we try our best to accommodate them. Through this programme, we hope employers will be more sensitised as to how we treat these people and will pave the way for more opportunities to be given to this community."
He added: "My dream is that we will not have to be begging persons to create space for these persons, but it will become something automatic, where there is availability for persons living with disabilities."
camp for first phase
Melvin Smith, executive director of the NYS, who was addressing a Statistics Symposium at the Mona Visitors' Lodge, University of the West Indies, Mona, recently, noted that the first phase of the programme would include a three-week camp where participants will be exposed to life and survival skills, character development, volunteerism, cultural awareness, and career planning, among other things.
He also pointed out that job coaches would be engaged to work with the youths, as well as the participating companies, to ensure that there is an understanding of both the requirements of the employers and the needs of the disabled.
Smith added that there would be a collaborative approach with stakeholder agencies such as the Jamaica Society for the Blind, and the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, among others.
Noting that the NYS sets aside up to 10 per cent of placement in programmes for persons from the disabled community, Smith lamented that as a society, more urgency should be placed on creating an inclusive society.
"We are not nearly as inclusive as we should be. Businesses do not often see the abilities of the disabled community, and instead, focus on their inabilities or their disabilities," Smith said.
"We believe that we should focus, therefore, on the abilities of the persons with disabilities because, by and large, they have significantly more abilities than the one or two disabilities that may plague them. ... We challenge civil society, the entire society, to be more inclusive of diversity and of persons with disabilities," he urged.