According to ILO, the official unemployment rate for persons with disabilities of working age is at least twice that for those without disabilities in most developed countries. According to the United Nations, 80% to 90% of people with disabilities of working age in developing countries are unemployed in developing countries. In Zimbabwe, many persons with disabilities are self-employed (vendors) in the informal sector because they face many barriers to employment in the formal sector.
These barriers need to be addressed for people with disabilities to access employnt in the formal sector.
Below are three ways to to address these barriers:
1. Making laws educational laws which promote equal educational opportunities for persons with disabilities
Most people with disabilities do not have equal educational opportunities as their counterparts without disabilities. As such, they lack requisite qualifications and skills for formal employment and at the end of the day the only option they have is to venture in to the informal sector to earn a living. Thus, having equal opportunities in education will equip them with the requisite qualifications and skills for formal employment.
2. Legislators should make employment laws which prohibit discrimination based on disability and employers should adhered to these laws
Many people with disabilities fail to get employment because of direct and indirect discrimination. In terms of the UK’s Equality Act 2010, direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably in the process of employment or on the job because of their disability and indirect discrimination occurs when an employment policy or procedure applies to everybody, but it puts people with disabilities at a disadvantage. Therefore, there is a need for laws that prohibit both direct and indirect discrimination against people with disabilities in Zimbabwe.
3. Employers should intentionally employ people with disabilities and make reasonable accommodation in the workplace
Employers should have recruitment policies and procedures which are favourable to the employment of people with disabilities. They should also ensure that their workplaces are accessible and be ready to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Fellow employees should also be willing to embrace inclusion and diversity and to make it work.
Promoting the employment of people with disabilities in the formal sectors goes beyond the above three steps but extends to continued management of disability issues within the workplace. This will enable persons with disabilities to be formally employed and to advance in their careers.
There is great need to promote the employment of people with disabilities to enhance their independence and social recognition; and uphold their rights as citizens. Accordingly, we promote the employability of graduates with disabilities through our capacity building project.