Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Low employment rate among skilled disabled Jamaicans

Published:Friday | July 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter
Stephanie Groves (right), an expert in sign language, demonstrates the proper way to sign at the Workability Function held at the UWI Regional Headquarters in Mona, St Andrew, yesterday. Also in the picure is Dr Joy Moncrieffe.
Zavia Mayne, state minister in the Minstry of Labour and Social Security, speaks with Andre Miller, national project coordinator, during the Worrkability Function held at the UWI Regional Headquarters at Mona, St Andrew, yesterday.
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A little over 15 per cent of persons with disabilities (PwDs) who graduated from a four-year skills-training programme under the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities project, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, have been gainfully employed since completing the course.

"Four hundred and sixty-seven graduated, reflecting an average of 80 per cent completion rate across programmes implemented," reported Elsa Marks Willis, project director, Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education.

"Three hundred and twenty persons with disabilities have participated in work-experience activities after completing classroom training, and 77 persons with disabilities have received permanent employment on completion of our training programme," she added.

Marks Willis was addressing the project's second consultation held at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies in Mona, St Andrew, yesterday. The consultation was geared at raising awareness of the issues related to PwDs making a way for themselves in the Jamaican workforce.

 

85% UNEMPLOYED

 

According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, 85 per cent of PwDs are not employed, and the disabled community accounts for approximately 10 per cent of Jamaica's population, which stands at roughly 2.8 million.

During the session, stigma and discrimination were cited as underlying issues still affecting PwDs.

"This Government maintains a resolute commitment to remove barriers that prevent the disabled from participating, while at the same time enabling them to unlock their vast potential. We are committed to the provision of access to services, intervention, and other opportunities aimed at improving the participation of persons with disabilities ... ," said Zavia Mayne, minister of state in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

Mayne also stated that the implementation of the Disabilities Act, passed in 2014, was a "high priority" for the Government. The law aims to foster socio-economic inclusion of members of the disabled community by safeguarding their human rights. The project is funded by the Japan Policy Human Resources Development Grant, with the World Bank as the implementing agency.

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com