JOHOR BARU: The state government, with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has set-up a People with Disabilities Employment Unit to encourage more employers to hire people with disabilities.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the unit would provide employers with a data bank of people with disabilities whom they could hire.
It will also act as a support system where those selected will be given training that is suitable for the job.
"The setting up of this unit is one of Johor's efforts to increase the number of people with disabilities in the workforce," he said after opening a national conference on employment and disability here yesterday.
Also present were Social Welfare Department director-general Datuk Meme Zainal Rashid and UNDP assistant resident representative James George Chacko.
Ghani said the setting up of the unit was due to the success of an employment model jointly developed by UNDP and the State Economic Planning Unit. He said the state's immediate target was to fulfil the one per cent quota of employment for people with disabilities in government agencies.
"From there, we hope to expand it to the private sector," he added.
Ghani said for too long, people with disabilities had been discouraged by discriminatory barriers and mistaken assumptions about their capacity to work, causing most of them to withdraw from an active search for jobs and rely on either disability benefits or eke out a livelihood in low value-added work in the informal economy with support from their family.
"With the setting up of this unit, support will be made available to job-seekers with disabilities," he added.
The special unit can be reached at 07-2266618.
Meme said the move by Johor in setting up the unit was a major first step since Malaysia become a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April last year.
"People with disabilities in this country should no longer be treated as passive recipients of assistance or as a burden to society, but rather as active contributors to society to achieve the goals of development for all," she said.
Meme hoped other states would also follow suit and set up similar units to assist people with disabilities.
Sources: NST Online