The State of Employment of People with Disabilities
The employment rate of people with disabilities is widely accepted to be very low. Despite the lack of nation-wide data on employment, an indication of the severity of the situation is found in the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund survey publication, “Functional Limitation and Participation Barriers in Earthquake Affected Areas of AJK and NWFP”, which reported that 70.5% of people with a disability (10.2% of the sample population) had no form of employment. This situation creates a vicious cycle, where people with disabilities are excluded from the workforce, decreasing the income of their families and impacting employability, education and health.
An Organisation Breaking the Cycle – KESC
Since 2009, NOWPDP has worked to break this cycle and facilitate the employment of people with disabilities. The Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) worked with NOWPDP from an early stage to employ people with visual impairments in their call center. We asked Shariq Karim (General Manager, Customer Service) about his experience:
What were your concerns when you initially took on some people with disabilities at KESC?
Initially we were skeptical, because we thought that the talk time for the incoming calls would increase, hampering the overall efficiency of the call center.
What has your experience been like since then?
The experience so far has been overwhelming. The concentration and performance level is almost similar to that of the other agents and so far we have not encountered any issues pertaining to their performances. The inductees have been able to perform their respective roles diligently and have definitely exceeded our expectations. They are even more courteous and motivated than any of our other employees!
What do you see as the greatest barrier to equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Pakistan?
The stigma that surrounds an impairment of any sort. Most of us are not comfortable with the thought of working with a person with a disability.
What suggestion would you make to other organisations who do not currently employ people with disabilities?
A physical impairment of any kind is not a reason to reject a candidate. We ought to be accommodating and find suitable opportunities to employ people with disabilities.
Trainings should be conducted for employees to overcome such prejudice and to make them an integral part of the corporate world.