‘Skill Council for Persons with Disability’ (SCPwD) organized an International Seminar on ‘Skill Training for Persons with Autism – Way Forward’ on Tuesday, 10th January at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi.
The seminar was organized to bring together different perspectives of various stakeholders working in the field of Autism. Going forward, SCPwD intends to add Autism and Intellectual Disability in its Skill Training Programmes for Persons with Disability (PwD), in addition to the already existing 4 disabilities, i.e. (i) Low Vision, (ii) Blindness, (iii) Speech & Hearing and (iv) Locomotor Disabilities.
The major attraction of the seminar was the address of the Guest of Honour, Dr. Anthony James Bailey, Professor and Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health Chair, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada). He presented his views on ‘ASD & Employment – Opportunities & Challenges’, and discussed on various opportunities & challenges in preparing for skill training of Persons with Autism and their employment. This was a very educative and enlightening session.
Mr. Anup K Srivastava, Chief Executive Officer, SCPwD initiated the inaugural session with his welcome note. He emphasized on how PwD in the working age group can productively contribute to the economy of the country. Apart from advocacy and education, accessibility and acceptability ought to be given due consideration. He highlighted that upon inception, SCPwD had selected 3 sectors and 6 job roles, which has now been expanded to 18 sectors and 23 job roles. More sectors and more number of job roles were in the process to be adopted, also covering more types of disabilities, so as to expand the outreach.
Mr. Mukesh Jain, Jt. Secretary, Govt of India and CEO, The National Trust, India mentioned in his address that there was no concrete data on autism is available in India; hence, there is lack of awareness about the available manpower and their potential. There was an immense need to work in this highly overlooked area at strategic level. In order to achieve the objective of skilling & employment of Persons with Autism, there was an immediate requirement of huge reforms in government policies and guidelines apart from creation of a strategic framework.
Ms. Aradhana Lal, Vice President – Sustainability Initiatives, The Lemon Tree Hotels made a presentation on ‘Employment in Adults with Autism’ and thoroughly inspired the gathering by showcasing the incredible work done by The Lemon Tree Hotel in hiring PwD, including Persons with Autism. She strongly emphasized that it did not only empower them but also made a great business sense in hiring PwD, therefore, more and more industries should hire PwD.
Aradhana also introduced Mr. Aditya Mehta (Person with Autism), a cheerful young boy, working as Guest Service Associate at Red Fox Hotel, Aerocity. Aditya shared his enriching experience as an employee of The Lemon Tree Hotel Company and was lauded well for his confidence in speaking about himself and his work from the podium, in front of a capacity full auditorium.
Ms. Dolly Chakravarty, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) elaborated about the National Action Plan (NAP), launched by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability and the facilities extended by the Govt. to empower PwD. She additionally briefed that during the current year, till date, 20 proposals of Training Providers (TP) had been sanctioned for skilling PwD, 8 TP had been provided grants and 300 PwD had been trained. She also talked about the Deen Dayal Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) under National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC).
Dr. KP Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and the Chief Guest of the Seminar expressed his utter delight to be a part of the seminar in his new role at MSDE and appreciated the efforts being made in direction of skilling & employment of PwD. He shared about his past experience of working under different ministries and gave a thoughtful insight on how one can align the learnings from past experiences in discharge of current responsibility and to give desired momentum to new role in hand. He also assured of rendering support towards substantial contribution in the area of skilling PwD. ….continued on next page.