Govt Asked to Do More to Get Persons with Disability in Formal Employment

Dr Patrick Ojok, founder and Director of Inclusion and Disability Watch Africa.

Government has been urged to do more in creating enabling policies that will make it easy for more persons with disability (PWDs) to get into formal employment.

The appeal was made by Dr Patrick Ojok, founder and Director of Inclusion and Disability Watch Africa also a lead consultant and researcher.

Dr Ojok recently undertook a study on the employment situation of persons with disability and the quota employment policy for Uganda.

He said government should streamline the policy since it is the only surest way for this special group to enter into the formal world of work.

“Government needs to determine the employment situation of Persons with Disability and assess the prospect for an employment on quota policy for PWDs in Ugandan, the percentage of work designated for them needs to be clearly stated pending a law on the implementation and strategy,” he said.

Dr Ojok was making a presentation at the CEO Forum, themed on “Enhancing Inclusive Employment of Persons with Disabilities in Uganda.”

Advocacy has been done to educate the PWDs but they still face discrimination at point of entry to workforce.

Ojok noted that it is a moral obligation and legal requirement to employ persons with disability and that disability inclusion is a global agenda that all countries are focusing on under Agenda 2030 with a call to Leave No One Behind.

This comes at a time when the unemployment rate in the country stands at a high rate with 12.4% of Persons with Disability unemployed, according to 2016 statistics by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).

He attributed the worrying trend to continued negative attitude towards PWDs, discrimination and inaccessibility of some work places by Persons with disability.

Uganda National Housing Survey, 2016 says 46% of Persons with Disability aged between 14-64 experience discrimination in employment compared to the percentage (8%) of persons without disabilities.

Unlike in the past when Persons with Disability where left out of job position due to low level of education this has over time changed with a majority now holding Degrees and subsequent vocational, high school and specialized qualifications.

Ojok noted that that as governments ponders on with the implementation of the quota policy, it should consider penalties to ensure that work places adhere to the set principles.

Annette Nakawunde, the Vice Chairperson Federation of Uganda Employers while addressing the forum called on the different entities to consider employing PWDs based on their ability, skills and output as opposed to treating them as object of charity for corporate social responsibilities.

“Employers should change their mindset; employment here should be given on grounds of ability to perform,” said Nakawunde.

However, Edson Ngirabakunzi, the Executive Director told the gathering that the unemployment issues are real and cross cutting, and not only affecting persons with disability.

“We made a call for research to find out the living condition of persons with disability in Uganda. We were overwhelmed by the number of applications. We received over 2,000 application for only 60 positions” Edson said.

“As an equal employment organization, all sorts of people had to apply, but it was  trying moment as even those with Bachelors and Masters Degrees. Yet they had no work experience”

He argues that the same way government introduced affirmative actions to give students opportunities to go get quality education, this should be replicated through the quota system of employment to ensure the same graduates are absorbed into formal employment.

Christine Wanyama, the human resource manager Exclusive Uganda Cuttings said they (company) don’t regret employing Persons with Disability as their productivity has been beyond their expectation.

Article 27 of the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities compels state parties to recognize the right of persons with disability  to work, on an equal basis with others, this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in labour markets and in environment that is open inclusive and acceptable to parsons with disabilities.

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