Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation secretary of state Em Chan Makara said providing more employment opportunities for the disabled community needs to remain a priority even as the country faces the dual threat of Covid-19 and heavy flooding.
He made the remarks at a consultative workshop titled “Economic opportunities for disabled persons” on Monday in the capital. The workshop was attended by Australian diplomats in Cambodia, civil society organization (CSO) representatives and representatives of the disabled community.
Chan Makara said it was important to raise awareness concerning the legal requirements and guidelines for recruiting disabled persons.
He said there should be legal standards which help match disabled persons capable of working with employers.
He added that programmes should be created to find decent jobs for the disabled community backed by research and discussions with the community.
Last year, 6,652 disabled persons worked in state and private institutions across the country. Of the number, 2,860 worked at 40 different ministries and state institutions. In the private sector, 3,792 disabled workers were employed at banks, microfinance institutions, hotels and factories, according to a survey of 102 private companies conducted by the ministry in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Siem Reap provinces.
The government’s National Disability Strategic Plan 2019-2023 is currently being implemented to help solve problems for the disabled community, including improving job opportunities and providing financial security.
Makara said through the cash handout programme for poor and vulnerable people during the pandemic, the government has spent $25 million per month on more than 560,000 vulnerable citizens. Of that number, 100,844 are classified as disabled.
Hands of Hope Community (HHC) executive director Chan Sarin said disabled persons experience obstacles when looking for jobs because employers in several sectors discriminate against them.
Sarin said the situation would improve if the government introduces mechanisms to assist the disabled community in finding decent jobs.
He also urged disabled people to strengthen their skills and continue looking for work, despite the discrimination they face. He said they deserve and should strive for a life of dignity.
“Disabled persons have to strengthen both soft and hard skills in response to job opportunities and what employers want. If they cannot perform after being employed, employers can look down on the disabled in general. It affects every [disabled person],” he said.