ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Kandy Times

Disabled workers more committed than others

By L. B. Senaratne

Those who attended the first ‘Job Fair,’ outside Colombo were told on Thursday that disabled workers were more committed than others.

The job fair held in Kandy was organised by the Motivation Charitable Trust Fund in collaboration with the Employer’s Network on Disability of the Employer’s Federation of Ceylon (EFC).

There were 58 persons with disabilities seeking employment while 24 commercial establishments were prepared to employ them on the same salaries provided they had the requisite qualifications. Some of them were graduates who were also computer literate.

Director of Social Services in the Central Province Vimal Ratnayake said this move by the commercial sector was a laudable one since sometimes the state agencies cannot fill this gap due to many reasons.

He said there was a lack of data on disabled persons while adding that there are around 55,000 disabled people -- both men and women -- in the Central Province, most of them coming from village and plantation backgrounds.

“This move to give them job opportunities is a very good effort against all odds,” he said while noting that a database should be set up to find the actual number of disabled persons who could be employed instead of treating them as 'second class ' citizens in the country.

Ratnayake said some of these disabled people were far above the average person and were more committed in their jobs.

It was surprising that most of those who were seeking employment came from places like Gampola, Kurunegala and the outskirts of Kandy and not from Kandy itself.

Divisional Secretaries and the Grama Sevaka Niladaris had been active in contacting these persons to make their way to the Job Fair. One disabled person, Siva Sena from Alawathugoda was seeking employment as a painter with a steady income against his current position as a painter on a part time basis. In this field two persons were employed at the job fair as painters to an automobile painting shop.

Indrani who participated at the job fair is a B.Com graduate from Gampola, and also a computer trainer who passed out from university over two years ago who had no employment. When questioned whether she had sought employment, she said that she did not, but the Grama Nildhari of the area had ' prodded ' her to come to this Job Fair and was successful at securing a job.
Then there was Ramya Kumar who had been blind from birth in one eye. She had passed her advanced levels but had no job since employers would not hire her since she was blind in the right eye. The Opthamologist who had seen her told her to use glasses, and it was with these glasses that she came for the ' job ' fair' and succeeded in getting a job.

The stories are unending, but the job fair gave most of the disabled persons an opportunity to get employment.

Director General of the Employers Federation of Ceylon Ravi Pieris, in his opening address to the participants and those with disabilities said that they were demonstrating their commitment towards providing equal oppotunities in employment. He said it should be considered that this opportunity is not merely from the point of view of social responsible action, but also from the context of having a talented and a committed employee in the organisation.

This, he said, was the the experience of many employers who have recruited disabled persons before.He further said that the ' Network ' conducted four Job Fairs previously in Colombo and provided job opportunities and training to many disabled persons. He said 525 disabled persons attended job seeking skills and training programmes conducted by Motivation Charitable Trust at which some of the Human Resource Managers of member companies participated as resource persons.

The four previous Job Fairs in Colombo provided job opportunities for over 200 disabled persons.

Pieris thanked the Motivation Charitable Trust for having collaborated with the Federation and the sponsorship of the Job Fair through USAID. He said that he was also thankful to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Investment for having assisted in identifying interested employers to participate in the Job Fair held in Kandy at the Earls Regency Hotel.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.