The Department for International Development (DFID) – Government of United Kingdom, Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD) – Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (GOI) and v-shesh hosted a workshop on “Disability Confidence at Workplace” along with the employers at Hotel Senator, Kolkata on January 29, 2019.
India has a population of 2.68 crore Persons with Disabilities (Census 2011). Out of which approximately 1.34 crore are in the employable age of 15 to 59 years. As per the National Action Plan, India intends to train 25 lakh youth by 2022. However, employment of skilled PwDs in industry is a challenge due to lack of sensitization and mapping of disability specific job roles. “Disability Confidence at workplace” was aimed at sensitizing corporates on inclusion of Persons with Disabilities into the workforce.
Key areas of discussions during the workshop were (i) barriers in recruitment (ii) how Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 is an opportunity to improve HR practices and (iii) range of equal opportunities and good practices for workplace. With sharp focus on addressing barriers (rather than impairment), the participants shared their experiences, learning and discussed practical solutions relevant to the situations they face as employers or job seekers.
More than 20 employers and 41 participants from sectors like IT Business Processing, Financial Services, Hospitality& Retail, Healthcare Manufacturing and others participated. Representatives from National Association for Blind, Deaf People Association shared their insight on barriers in employment & education markets. The workshop ensured accessibility for all by providing sign language interpretation, material in alternate formats, etc. Persons with Disabilities who are employed in corporate sector and are seen as role models provided job seeker’s perspective. The workshop format was highly interactive, engaging the participants through online mobile app-based quiz, empathy building activities and case studies.
Employers should not look at hiring PWDs as a social cause, it is in fact a business case. PWDs, if given appropriate access/adjustments at workplace, can be more valuable assets to the employers as per the studies. With that perspective DFID has launched multiple pilot initiatives to catalyze action towards accelerated recruitment across industry sectors. Dr Niharika Nigam, Head Quality & Standards- Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD) talked about the role of SCPwD in skilling of Persons with Disabilities in India and emphasized upon the need for creating inclusive work culture with accessibility and acceptability.Ms Radhika Agarwal, Founding Member, v-shesh said that this workshop was intended as a platform for employers to share their experience, learn from each other and understand job seeker’s perspective which will go a long way in paving the path for accelerating hiring and inclusion of Persons with disability.