Jobless, disabled, seeking a piece of the labour pie

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Disabled Barbadians are begging employers to give them a piece of the jobs pie, president of the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled Inc. (BARNOD), Colbert Ashby, has told Barbados TODAY.

He said BARNOD was extremely concerned that members of the disabled community were finding it difficult to gain work, though many of them were highly qualified and able to perform effectively in the workplace.

Though unable to give figures, Ashby said the percentage of jobless disabled people was too high not to notice.

Ashby told Barbados TODAY: “We have a number of persons who have reached tertiary education level, but the only challenge that they have is that they have disabilities. So we want persons to be more sensitive to persons with disabilities who have highly qualified skills to work within the workforce.”

Ashby highlighted the issue this morning during a press conference at Potters Centre in BIDC Building #2 on the Harbour Road, where he also acknowledged that the organisation was aware about the uncertainties of the economic climate, and the fact that people were being laid off in the public and private sector.

But Ashby appealed to employers not to overlook the disabled but to give them the opportunity to show that they, too, can make a meaningful contribution to the workforce.

He said; “Disability doesn’t mean inability. We have a member who has a degree in Public Sector Management from the University of the West Indies. He has completed that course many years ago and was unable to acquire a job. He was fortunate enough to attend two internships and he had an experience that I am sure he wouldn’t forget.

“We have been encouraged to study. I think just recently, the results of the CXCs where persons of disabilities have sat, they got back very good results from those programmes. They may have a physical disability, but intellectually their brains are still working, and they may be able to utilize that brain within society that can be worthy to any employer.”

At the news confererence, Swayne Brown, a Lodge School old scholar who has held a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Sector Reform since 2009, told reporters of his applying for several vacancies the over years. Brown said he was called to a few interviews but had not been successful.

Brown told reporters: “I am still trying. All you can do is to try your best, and hope that somebody sees my talent, and not my disability. Don’t look at my disability; look at my talent and what I can do to help your organization and also to give back to my country Barbados. That is all I want. I want to be independent.”

BARNOD announced “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”, a March 30 event designed to sensitise Barbadians about people with disabilities.

Proceeds from the early-morning walk, scheduled to start at 6 a.m. at the Clock Tower, Garrison, St Michael, and end at Independence Square, are going to assist people with disabilities.

Entertainer Anderson “Blood” Armstrong, who pledged support for the walk, encouraged Barbadians to support the initiative.

“We need to be not insensitive about their needs and their situations. They are people just like us. So come out and support,” Armstrong said.

Writer and comedian Eric Lewis said this would be his third year supporting the walk and encouraged the public to buy the event’s T-shirts.

“We will be sensitising people to some of the challenges the disabled community face on a daily basis. You don’t have to be disabled to take part in the walk. Come out in your groups from your work places,” Lewis said.

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