PWDs see hope in job fair

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Saturday, July 23, 2011


MARY ANN Goncer walked to a small table to face her interviewers. She had never been to a job fair in her 28 years. But when she learned, one afternoon while watching TV, that government agencies will organize a job fair for persons with disabilities (PWDs), she prepared her resume right away.

“Kinahanglan na ko makatrabaho para makatabang sa akong mama (I need to find a job so I can help my mother),” said Goncer, a hunchback who lives in Basak Pardo, Cebu City.

PWDs, most of them busy interacting through sign language, gathered at the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center (AVRC) in Labangon, Cebu City yesterday.

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Five companies joined the daylong job fair organized in observance of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

The agencies behind the job fair were the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Manpower Development and Placement.

“This is the first ever job fair for PWDs. We organized this job fair so PWDs will not have to compete with able-bodied persons,” DSWD 7 Director Ma. Evelyn Macapobre said in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Macapobre said that although the “stigma against PWDs has been removed already,” the lack of employment opportunities has remained a challenge for them.

“The mainstreaming of PWDs into the community, especially in terms of employment, has not yet been successful,” she said.

This observation did not stop Daisy Jane Omega, who walked with the aid of crutches, to try her luck in the job fair yesterday.

“This is the first job fair I’ve been to. I hope I get hired,” Omega said in Cebuano.

The 18-year-old resident of Basak, Lapu-Lapu City just recently graduated from a six-month computer training.

PWDs like Omega can hope for a brighter future, with the business community becoming
more aware of the importance of including PWDs in their workforce, Macapobre said.

She noted that Wellmade Motors Corp. founder Phillip Tan is among the local businessmen who are committed to providing jobs to PWDs, including AVRC graduates.

“Tan believes that PWDs can be as productive as able-bodied workers. They can even be more productive,” Macapobre said.

She said under the law, 10 percent of a company’s workforce should be set aside for PWDs.

“The law is good but lacks implementation,” she said.

Macapobre said the AVRC has a placement officer that helps PWDs find jobs after graduation.

Administered by DSWD 7, the AVRC offers 13 vocational courses to PWDs for free. These courses include computer technology, massage therapy, electronics and sewing. At present, the center trains about 80 PWDs.

“We not only teach PWDs vocational skills, we also help them develop self-esteem,” Macapobre said.

The DSWD also helps PWDs start a livelihood by lending them capital under its Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran program. This month, eight PWDs were granted loans, said Macapobre.

Macapobre also urged businessman to strictly comply with other laws protecting the PWDs, such as the Batas Pambansa 344 or Accessibility Law. Under the law, buildings should be constructed with ramps and other features that enhance the mobility of PWDs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2011.

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