JIS News

Jamaicans with disabilities are to be provided with opportunities to improve their employability skills, while employers will be sensitised about the benefits of hiring these persons, when Enable 2005 begins today (July 13) at the Chinese Benevolent Society in Kingston.
According to State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Senator Floyd Morris, the employment fair was organised against the background of the high numbers of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in Jamaica, who were unemployed. Of the 250,000 disabled Jamaicans, he informed, only 1 per cent were gainfully employed.
Addressing journalists at a press conference held yesterday (June 12) at his National Heroes Circle offices to launch the two-day fair, Senator Morris said the majority of PWDs, who possess employable skills want to work, as they do not want to depend on assistance. “I am conscious of the fact that those disabled person within the society would not want to be around depending or relying on any individual for ongoing assistance but rather they would want to be a part of the productive capacity of our country,” he stated.
Speaking further, he said that if persons with disabilities were given the opportunity to prove themselves, “I am certain that.they will make the best use of it.”
The Senator told journalists that based on conversations he has had with employers who hire PWDs, they have been effusive in their praise about the impact of a disabled person working for them.
Presently, the public sector is the primary employer of persons with disabilities, but the State Minister is encouraging the private sector to actively recruit these persons. “They are a source of inspiration and motivation to their colleagues and I am certain that if the employers within the Jamaican society would employ more disabled persons, I am absolutely confident that it would redound to greater improvement in production and productivity in their workforce,” he asserted.
Lauding the working abilities of persons with disabilities, Senator Morris noted they were trained in a variety of professions that ranged from telephone operators and dressmakers to woodworkers, and even individuals who have completed doctoral studies. “You have a wide gamut of skills and talents among the disabled community that employers can draw from and so this fair will see these talents, these abilities on display,” he pointed out.
Enable 2005 will comprise features such as seminars, workshops, and panel discussions covering topics such as “assistive” technology, the disabled in business, and the myths associated with employing persons with disabilities.
Patrons will also be exposed to computer technology that assists the blind from Ted Henter, an overseas inventor of a computer software programme known as JAWS, while William McAnn will introduce software that allows the blind to create their own music. A key component of the fair will be a Project Proposal Competition where PWDs will be invited to submit business proposals. A selection process will award $50,000 to the persons with the four best project proposals, to assist in starting their own businesses.
Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke, will open Enable 2005 today at the Chinese Benevolent Society at 127 Old Hope Road. The event will continue on Thursday. The fair begins at 10:00 a.m. on both days.