Civil society organisations and government representatives expressed concern on Tuesday about the limited job opportunities for the Kingdom’s disabled people and other challenges that regularly face them.
They complained that most job seekers with disabilities still had limited skills and education. This contributed to their inability to find decent jobs and facing regular discrimination by employers.
The concerns were raised during a meeting held to increase awareness of the rights of disabled people, as well as to share information on job prospects and training opportunities for them.
More than 200 representatives from various disability groups, international donors and government officials attended the meeting which took place in the capital on Tuesday.
Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) executive director Ngin Saorath said unemployment was a source of grave concern for society and many disabled person’s families.
He said disabled people tended to have less schooling years than others, resulting in the acquisition of limited skills and educational qualifications. This, he said, contributed to the high unemployment rates among the disabled.
Furthermore, Saorath said, most employers do not provide job opportunities for the disabled. “Some companies do not know how to work with them, while others are not aware of the laws and regulations that promote the rights of disabled people. These are the main challenges in our society.
“Currently, CDPO is working with our partners to create a database to solve the challenges. We collect information about job seekers with disabilities for the private companies that intend to hire them,” he said.
According to Saorath, CDPO currently has more than 20,000 members spread across the country. Each branch consists of nearly 2,000 members who are able to assist the disabled people at the grassroots level “by offering them skills training”.
Pich Saroeun, a 54-year-old disabled person and representative of the organisation’s branch in Battambang province, who was also present at the meeting, said he could perform tasks like other people, defying the belief that a disabled person cannot do a lot of things.
He said such beliefs are a form of discrimination, discouragement and undermine the confidence of disabled people.
“The employers should encourage the disabled because all of us want to live a decent life, just like others do,” he said.
Citing a Ministry of Planning report, Ung Sambath, the deputy director of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation’s Disability Action Council, said there were 542,000 disabled people recorded in Cambodia in 2014. The number reached nearly one million in 2017.
The government, he said, is still conducting the latest census of disabled people, thus the result has not been released.
Sambath said of the 542,000, only 38 per cent of those 18 years or older had decent jobs.
“I talked with the employers and asked them to discern their ability, not merely their disability. If they don’t have jobs, they don’t have money to live."
“This is the primary cause of our concerns. On the other hand, we should also encourage the disabled to acquire new skills,” he said.