JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Twenty-seven persons with disabilities have received permanent employment through a Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project currently being done through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
  • The project, funded through the World Bank at a cost of just under US$3 million, engaged 172 persons in training through the HEART Trust/NTA for the 2014-2015 period.
  • All of these persons were exposed to at least six months of work experience through the National Youth Service.

Twenty-seven persons with disabilities have received permanent employment through a Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project currently being done through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The project, funded through the World Bank at a cost of just under US$3 million, engaged 172 persons in training through the HEART Trust/NTA for the 2014-2015 period.

All of these persons were exposed to at least six months of work experience through the National Youth Service.

Project Manager, Belinda Brown-Austin, in an interview with JIS News, said the four-year project has led to positive impacts on the employability of persons with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 36, who are beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).

She said the project has not just increased their potential for economic independence, but it has also contributed to an improvement in morale and esteem and exposes them to the possibilities for personal advancement available to them.

“It gives the participants pride to know that they are contributing as productive members of society,” Mrs. Brown-Austin said.

The Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities Project offers year-long certification courses in Data Operation, Housekeeping, Furniture-Making, Food Preparation, and Merchandising, among others.

The project is administered through a collaboration of the Ministry with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that already work closely with persons with disabilities.

The NGOs involved are: the Abilities Foundation, the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, the University of the West Indies Centre for Disability Studies, Development Options Ltd, the Jamaica Association on Intellectual Disabilities and the Portmore Self Help Disability Organisation.

The NGOs were given capacity building sessions by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to be able to effectively deliver the training based on the project guidelines.

“The project has a lifespan of four years, but disability is a continually emerging issue. It is multidimensional and it will always be here. We wanted to use a methodology that we could replicate; so when the project ends, we know that there are ongoing activities and that persons with disabilities are still receiving training and still getting access to employment opportunities,” Mrs. Brown-Austin said.

She said full-time employment of 27 persons may appear incremental, but that with the training, the certification and the work experience, the individuals are now employable and can also seek to become self-employed.

“Given the short period of implementation, we have had really broad sensitisation of stakeholders through the Ministry and through the agencies we are working in partnership with, to the status of workforce inclusion of persons with disabilities,” she added.

Mrs. Elsa Marks-Willis, Project Director for PATH, said the project forms part of an overall approach towards the social protection strategy in Jamaica and to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

“As the families are now engaging with the State to improve the life chances of persons in their families with disabilities, it is another opportunity that we have been able to create for families, especially those who are vulnerable, to move them out of that state of poverty to economic independence,” she said.

One hundred and fifty persons with disabilities are now enrolled for training for the 2015-2016 financial year.