Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, as part of the programs it provides in cooperation with the concerned authorities in the field of empowering people with disabilities, issued a report on its experience through its Masarat Center for Development and Empowerment in employing people with disabilities. From 1989 to 2021. It contributed to the employment of 417 persons with disabilities in many governmental and private institutions.
The center provides its services to persons with disabilities who are over the age of 16 and to their parents, as it is the last stage of the educational and training pyramid according to the methodology of rehabilitation in the city. With continuous emphasis on the importance of employing persons with disabilities in various governmental and private institutions, and integrating them into society, after empowering them and strengthening the principle of self-advocacy, in a way that is completely consistent with the vision and goals of the city and achieves its aspirations.
Among the most important objectives of the center is to empower persons with disabilities, qualify and train them to find educational and employment opportunities. In addition to empowering members and job seekers to live independently in various areas of life, self-reliance and confidence in making decisions.
As for the employment department of the Masarat Center, it provides various services to job seekers and employees with disabilities. Among its most important goals are economic empowerment, sustainability, independence and career development by providing all persons with disabilities with equal work opportunities, non-discrimination in employment, improving their quality of life, and achieving social integration.
Masarat center also seeks to empower government and private sector institutions to achieve common goals by providing various services to develop the skills of job seekers and qualify them for the labor market.
Obstacles and challenges facing the employment of persons with disabilities
Her Excellency Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, confirmed that the United Arab Emirates has put in place policies, laws and regulations that support the right of persons with disabilities to work. Despite this, there is a lack of sufficient understanding by some organizations regarding dealing with persons with disabilities in the workplace. In addition to lack of knowledge of the various disabilities, which leads to a limited number of job opportunities available to persons with disabilities.
She added, "Among these obstacles and challenges is also the failure of all employees with disabilities to possess the skills required for work before employment. In addition, most institutions and agencies fear employing persons with disabilities due to misconceptions about their abilities and skills”.
Among the challenges that many employees with intellectual disability face is the lack of facilitation and information in accessible format in the work environment, which contributes to the employees' lack of knowledge and familiarity with the procedures followed.
Overcoming obstacles and challenges
In the context of overcoming these challenges, Sheikha Jameela Al Qasimi affirmed that Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services aims and demands to promote equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination in employment. The city provides a variety of pre- and post-employment services and support for job seekers, and for employees with disabilities and the institutions that employ them.
The city provides services to job seekers from persons with disabilities such as pre-employment support, career guidance and counseling, job preparation, training programs with different objectives, and real field training in the workplace. The follow-up service continues after employment.
She indicated the city’s keenness to prepare job seekers to be ready for the work environment. The city strive to enable job seekers to acquire skills through the services provided by the city, encourage job seekers and employees to develop and sustain their skills, career paths and provide field training programs. In addition to providing support and guidance for career development and follow-up after employment.
The city had provided advisory and support services to nearly 45 governmental and private agencies in support of the employment of persons with disabilities in the labor market until 2020. The city also provided nearly 30 training workshops for its employees with disabilities until 2020.
Student employment policy creates an opportunity for them to gain practical experience
The report's recommendations included the adoption of a student employment policy that creates an opportunity for students to gain practical experience through education and work in the center, increase self-reliance, and follow a part-time policy that gives employees with disabilities the opportunity for career development. In addition to the flexible workshop policy, where the Employment Department provides programs to attract jobs for seekers by strengthening partnerships with employment institutions and to provide job opportunities for seekers with disabilities.
Employees with disabilities, “Work has helped us develop our skills”
The Masarat Center for Development and Empowerment had conducted a survey to find out the opinions of employees with disabilities working in the city and see their work experience and the skills they acquired. Many of them expressed that the work enabled them to gain useful experiences as they became more active socially and developed their skills, both practically and personally.
Parents, “It is imperative to support all parties with disabilities in the field of work”
As for the opinions of parents, some of them emphasized that the stage of searching for a job was one of the most difficult stages. While others mentioned that their children were students in the city, then the city employed them. They acquired during the work period various skills such as office skills, self-development and self-confidence.
Among the recommendations and suggestions that the report included was to supporting persons with disabilities by all the concerned parties. They should provide them with the opportunity in all fields to integrate into society. In addition to encouraging people with disabilities to work hard and giving them a salary suitable for living in the country.
The report included a set of opinions of some direct officials on employees with disabilities. They confirmed that the employees have acquired many professional and technical skills during the period of work in the city, such as using computers and assisting teachers effectively in implementing the educational and training program. In addition to effective communication with associates during training.
Training courses have positive effects on developing the skills of employees with disabilities
Among the most important recommendations and solutions proposed by direct officials to support, the employment of persons with disabilities is to provide training courses on regular basis because of its positive impact on developing employee skills. Moreover, establishing a specialized higher institute to conduct specialized courses such as the Institute for Environmental Studies and Recycling - Student Services Center. After that, students graduate directly to a job market. These institutes shall provide them with continuous support in a positive way so that persons with disabilities can rely on themselves hold jobs based on their skills, abilities and degree of disability.