Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have been urged to acquire more skills and increase their competence if they are to become more competitive in the job market. This was during the virtual conference held on Tuesday.
Held under the theme, “Disability Inclusion and Work: Addressing Youth Unemployment”, the conference brought together different young people with disabilities, stakeholders, and civil society actors to share and discuss the numerous challenges, ideas, and information related to inclusion and work for young people, with a focus on people with disabilities.
Speaking during a panel discussion, Martin Lubwama, business development and PRO at Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum said that persons with disabilities (PWDs) should desist from the mentality of handouts and playing the sympathy card, and instead focus on becoming ambassadors of change in society by fronting their varied capabilities and the value they bring to the table.
“We need to try and step away from the charity mentality that society has created over time and look at empowering ourselves first. When we go out there to express ourselves or present our credentials, we should not front being differently abled first thinking it will earn us sympathy or special access.” Martin Lubwama said.
According to Henry Sabah from the Federation of Uganda Employers, involvement, building strategic partnerships with key stakeholders and employers and engaging them in developing policy framework for inclusion, as well as holding regular disability awareness trainings across the country will help PWDs in accessing employment opportunities.
“Youths with disabilities have super abilities and this is a journey we need to soldier as a nation so that we can touch and improve their lives. One of the main issues that we have addressed is the self- belief mentality among them so that they are able to soar beyond the normal life and eventually shine in their spaces.”
Urban Kumwesiga, the finance officer at Child’s i Foundation and a beneficiary of the Make 12.4 % Work Internship program noted that inclusive internships are the key to changing employees’ mentality and attitudes towards PWDs.
He elaborated that the inclusive internships provide the much-needed opportunity for PWDs to showcase their capabilities, skills and technical know-how, which in turn also helps to build a sense of belonging and increases the confidence of PWDs as they advance in the world of employment.
He also advised the PWD youth to stay positive and encouraged them to continue working on their craft.
“No one is perfect, and no one should ever tell you that you can’t. The secret to success is knowing your strong points and focusing on building them focus on your abilities and develop them.”
He further pledged to collaborate with select persons with disabilities on different projects in order to give a boost to their careers.