Saturday, 08 September 2007

Companies ‘disinterested’ in disabled work force

MANAGERS must rethink their attitude to employing disabled people. Talented people are going to waste since companies see them as a liability rather than a potential benefit.

Abacus Recruitment set up a division focusing on disabled candidates in February, but it is seeing an appalling level of disinterest from the corporate sector. Companies appear to eschew the idea of employing skilled disabled personnel, says Heloise Conradie, who heads the division.

Abacus specialises in the information technology sector, and while the disabled unit is gaining pace, it has placed only a fraction of its disabled candidates since February.

“While we remain bullish about the division, we have realised there is a huge pool of skilled people out there who are being ignored due to the fact that they are disabled. Since we started successfully placing candidates, we have had an increasing number of disabled candidates approaching us. But we are only successfully placing a fraction of them.”

There are hundreds of disabled people who are qualified, skilled, and have expert knowledge that can benefit a company, she says.

Among them is Cival Mills, a qualified doctor who cannot find a decent job. Employment options for someone such as Mills could include research, medical writing or evaluating claims, says Conradie.

Companies are usually willing to overcome many stumbling blocks in their efforts to make money. They know skilled staff will make them money, yet they fail to see that a skilled disabled person can also make them money.

All they have to do is ensure certain things are in place, such as easy access to the premises and suitable washroom facilities, Conradie says. HR departments, which should understand the guidelines behind employing disabled people, should be consulted about this when companies consider their potential candidates, she says.

“It is ironic that we are facing a skills shortage, yet on our books we have a wealth of skills to offer via our disabled recruitment sector.”

Source: Business Day

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