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Tue 20 Jul 2010 11:49 AM

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Prejudice hampers effort to get UAE's disabled into work

Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum says disabled jobless rate 'significantly higher'.

Prejudice hampers effort to get UAE's disabled into work
CDA CEO: Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum, CEO of Dubai’s Community Development Authority. (ITP Images)

People with disabilities are struggling to gain a foothold in the workplace as prejudice hampers their chances of landing a job, the CEO of Dubai’s Community Development Authority has said.

Dubai is home to an estimated 5,452 disabled people, a “huge percentage” of which remain out of work despite efforts by the government to root out discrimination in the job market, said Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum.

“The exact number we don’t know, but it is significantly higher than the general unemployment rate. There is a stereotype that many people in this region have, that people with disabilities don’t have the ability to work. It’s not true,” he told Arabian Business.

Data is scarce, but the cost to the government of unemployed Emiratis with disabilities is thought to be huge, he said.

“You can imagine the cost to the government of financial benefits, fees, of providing proper healthcare and keeping them at home. More importantly, it is no substitute for a life.”

In April, the CDA launched a campaign to encourage employees in the private sector to hire Emiratis with disabilities. The agency offers training and support to firms that sign up to the Elkayt scheme, and matches candidates to their recruitment needs.

The agency does not offer funding to employers, but does pay an AED800 allowance for six months to the candidate’s line manager, to complete a monthly report on their performance.

Some of Dubai’s largest firms, including Al Rostamani Group, Al Futtaim Group and Al Ghandi motors, are enrolled in the programme.

“Our goal is to place 15 people by the end of the year. You might think that number is small, but the effort it takes to place one candidate is enormous,” said Sheikh Maktoum.

“We’re not an agency, so our job doesn’t end with employment. We intend to keep our candidates in jobs.”

Although Dubai has a general law that safeguards the rights of people with disabilities, it stops short of forcing employers to make adjustments to the workplace to accommodate them.

Partly because of this, said Sheikh Maktoum, the odds remain stacked against disabled people securing employment.

“Dubai has a long, long road ahead before it is a truly inclusive society. There is a stigma attached to disability caused by a lack of education. It’s about breaking that ground,” he said.

In many countries, employers are required by law to offer equal opportunities to people with disabilities. A similar code of enforcement would be unlikely to succeed in Dubai, because of the scarcity of services available to support disabled workers in the job market, said Sheikh Maktoum.

“If every employer in Dubai wanted to hire a person with disability tomorrow, there wouldn’t be the services available to bridge the gap,” he said. “Impose a quota, and people with disabilities will just be hired without education, without sufficient training, to meet it.”

The CDA is working with the British University in Dubai to carry out a six-month study to ascertain the benefits of being an equal opportunities employer. A research team will study Dubai-based landscaping firm, The Desert Group, which employs 30 workers with disabilities. The aim is to lay out the business case for recruiting disabled workers, said Sheikh Maktoum.

“It’s about breaking down the stigma. We intend to prove that employing people with disabilities is not going to hurt your bottom line. It could improve it.”

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Gloria 10 years ago

Part of the problem with employment for people with diabilities is the lack of vacational trainign facilities for these people. What it needs is an organisation to train people with diabilities in the functions required by an employer and provide to both the employer and the employee ongoing support services. This means the employer is not responsible for expending capital on training the person - the organisation is responsible for that - providing a mentor who stays with the employee in the workplace until they are familiar and comomfortable with the workplace procedures and then withdrawning the presence until it is needed for extra trainign etc. The specialised equipment for their employment could be subsidised by the government to encourage people to hire employees with disabilities. The only thing that stops people with disabilities working is the attitute - in other words people are the DIS in the challenged person's abilities. Research has shown that people with disabilities have a greater commitment to their work, and are in fact more productive - have a more positive attitude to work and less absenteesim. Furthermore it is one of the greatest self esteem builders for them - I think it should be law that a certain percentage of all employees in a business should be people with disabilities - after all they have the right to employment if they can do the job. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Butti Al Maktoum has written a great article - the rights of these people as individuals to reach the height of their abilities must be protected and they must be allowed to become productive members of the community where possible.

mrs dhenu 9 years ago

Benefits of hiring a physically challenged person
. I would like to express my views with you sir. I request you to kindly take little pain to read me
I am a human being just like everyone else; besides, a physically challenged person can be an asset to your firm. By taking the time to read ,me, I want you to tell about the benefits of hiring physically challenged person like me.

we probably have a strong work ethic. Because we are at a disadvantage and have more of a need to prove ourselves in the workplace than others, we will probably work with a great attitude and put all of effort into the job. You can count on us to go the extra mile and give you a one hundred and ten percent effort.

. People like me have a natural tendency to have a high sense of dignity when we are working.

This will help you live up to the statement you provide on your job applications and in your help-wanted ads.

Muhammas usmanm 7 years ago

I am a disabled person, living in Abudhabi (Mussafah).I am jobless.Can you help me ingetting any clerical job in any organisation.