Job scenario for disabled bleak in Assam, Meghalaya: Survey

GUWAHATI: With approximately 15 per cent of the world's population living with some form of disability, the call for an inclusive environment for the disabled is slowly growing louder. But in the northeast, the situation is far from feasible.

On the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities observed here on Tuesday, social activists and people with disability have asked for a broader set of reforms and a change in the mindset for providing them an equal standing in society.

A pilot study 'on assessment of employment needs of persons with disabilities' conducted by the Disability Employment Initiative of Shishu Sarothi and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in two districts of Assam and as many districts in Meghalaya found an abysmal rate of employment among people with disabilities. It found that 83 per cent of people with some form of disability were unemployed.

The study was conducted in Tinsukia and Kamrup (both rural and metro) districts of Assam and East and West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. It recommended 3 per cent reservation as mentioned in the Disability Act of 95 and creating awareness.

"People need livelihood. There is need for an inclusive development and environment. But it is not happening here and what the government needs is a larger mandate. Even the private sector needs to be inclusive in providing opportunities to the disabled," said Arman Ali, executive director of Shishu Sarothi.

The study also revealed dearth of vocational training for the disabled in skill development and trades of their choice. The study found that employers have a notion that disabled persons cannot take risks at work and also felt that work process is slowed down when they employ disabled persons.

"The report was released last year. It sought to explore the current status of employment of disabled persons in organized and unorganized sectors, identify their employment and livelihood needs, what training they require, identify employment solutions that their employers might have to implement at workplace and explore culturally sensitive perspectives," said Shaswati of Shishu Sarothi.

The report also highlighted the importance of finding out available skills of the disabled and the requirement of skill sets in finding employment in the region by using resources for generating sustainable employment opportunities. Another report will be prepared in the coming days.