3 September 2019
Many of the challenges faced by youth, both with and without disabilities, in accessing employment opportunities, stem from lack of exposure to the work environment, inadequate skills and experience, and lack of the right soft skills – particularly attitude, effective communication and social skills.
Most job openings advertised require years of experience and yet, to get experience one would need a job. This is an endless loop that many youth find themselves stuck in. Adding a disability to the equation presents twice the challenge for youth with disabilities.
The internship placements under the Make 12.4% Work Initiative aim at bridging the experience- employment gap, adding valuable skills to graduates with disabilities and increasing their chances of getting both waged and self-employment.
The unique take on internships goes beyond the work experience – the Initiative intends on using the internships to impart necessary skills to enable youth with disabilities cope in mainstream employment and in their social and community life. The soft skills trainings conducted are a start – preparing shortlisted applicants for the interview process and work environment.
The interview experience has proven valuable in enabling these youth to gain more confidence, learn how to market themselves, get a feel of the hosting organisation/company as well as identify any accessibility issues that may need to be addressed.
To top it all off, on-the-job support provided by Disability Inclusion Facilitators (DIFs) comes in to ease the intern into their duties, assist in any reasonable accommodation needs and improve the internship experience for both the intern and hosting organisation/company.
So far, 15 interns have been placed with 11 member organisations and companies (of the Make 12.4% Work Initiative). 8 (of the 15) have since been retained by the organisation, found other training opportunities or secured employment outside of the organisation they were placed with.