Access to Livelihoods conference: supporting disabled people into employment

20 February 2014

by Tiziana Oliva

Five people (including Tiziana Oliva) gathered round a lamp which they are lighting

Last week I attended a conference in New Delhi organised by Leonard Cheshire Disability’s regional office in South Asia, to share the learning from the globally recognised ‘Access to Livelihoods’ project. The dedication of everyone who attended and took part in the conference has left me feeling incredibly inspired by the work that we are doing to support disabled people into employment across the globe.

With employment rates for disabled people reaching 90% in many developing countries, and over 400 million living below the poverty line, it’s an issue we can’t afford to ignore. Disabled people are a massively untapped resource in the employment market.

With support from Accenture, our Access to Livelihoods project has provided more than 9000 disabled people with training and supported over 5,000 into employment in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Through the project we have developed innovative solutions to support people into employment, for example:

  • Our Livelihoods Resource Centres are unique spaces that act as one stop shops for disabled people looking for employment, providing careers guidance, training, work placements and other support.
  • Jobability is an exciting online resource providing extensive information on disability and employment and linking people with prospective employers.

We had a really impressive line-up of speakers, including Ms Stuti Kacker, the first secretary of the newly created Department of Disability Affairs in India, and Ms Dhanya Rajeswaran, vice president of human resources at Accenture.

We heard from disabled people who have had their lives transformed by finding employment. Listening to their stories really helped to bring the impact of the project to life.

It was also great to hear from companies who are blazing the trail in employing disabled people. The human resources general manager of a top hotel chain in India spoke passionately about how hard working and committed they found their disabled employees. They are planning to open a hotel in Delhi with a target of reserving 80% of jobs for disabled people.

What struck me most was the amazing level of commitment and positive energy in the room. I have no doubt that, like me, every single person at the conference left feeling motivated to make sure that disabled people are empowered to realise their full potential in the workplace.

Find out more about our livelihoods projects in Africa and Asia.

Tiziana Oliva is Leonard Cheshire Disability's international director. She tweets at @TizianaLCD.

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