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Bhubaneshwar workshop sees key stakeholders share best practices, solutions to workplace inclusion

India has a disabled population of 1.34 crore in the employable age of 15 to 59 years, and the National Action Plan aims to reach out to this group by training 25 lakh youth by 2022.

Training, however, will not guarantee jobs unless it is accompanied by sensitizing organizations and mapping disability-specific job roles in the industry.

Towards this, the Department for International Development (DfID) - Government of United Kingdom, Skill Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPwD) - Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (GOI) and impact enterprise v-shesh hosted a workshop in the Odisha capital, Bhubaneshwar. The theme was #DisabilityConfidence at Workplace.

Over 17 employers and 40 participants from sectors including IT, business processing, financial services, hospitality and retail, manufacturing, were present, most of them in the early stages of their journey towards inclusion.

To ensure a two-way dialogue, also present were representatives from the National Association for the Blind, Deaf People Association, who talked about the barriers they encounter while pursuing education and employment opportunities.

Some of the areas of discussion were:

  • Barriers in recruitment
  • Looking at provisions of the RPWD Act 2016 to improve HR practices.
  • Range of equal opportunities good practices for the workplace.

There was a clear focus on addressing barriers rather than disabilities, and giving participants an opportunity to share their experiences, learnings as well as practical solutions that apply to situations they face, be it as employers or prospective employees. Offering the job-seekers' perspective were disabled people employed in the corporate sector.

The format was kept interactive, with participants kept engaged through activities like an online mobile app based quiz, empathy building sessions and case studies.

Among the key speakers was Tarun Parihar, from ScPwD, who talked about the part played by the organization in skilling disabled people. He also talked about the need for creating an inclusive work culture with accessibility and acceptability.

R K Sharma from the National Career Guidance Center highlighted the operation of a centre in Bhubaneswar in providing services ranging from training to job fairs in creating greater job opportunities.

"It is important to note how how ecosystem level efforts in accessibility, inclusive education, policy have all led to the mainstreaming of disability inclusion initiatives. Keeping that in mind, DfID has launched multiple pilot initiatives to catalyze action towards accelerated recruitment across industry sectors. - Kaustubhi Harit, Specialist Skills & Inclusion, DfID-UK

"This workshop is aimed to create a platform for employers to share experiences," said P Rajasekharan, Co-founder, v-shesh. "The purpose is to learn from each other and understand the job-seeker's perspective. This will go a long way in paving the path for accelerating hiring and inclusion."

The focus on practical solutions was appreciated by the employers as they were easy to implement and practical. Such platforms that facilitate an open sharing of approaches and information are important for companies as they seek to learn and build upon their journey towards inclusion.

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