An innovative disability-inclusive employment pilot programme that worked with more than 2,300 jobseekers with disabilities and more than 500 businesses in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda has recently come to an end.
In just three years, it more than doubled the employment rate of the jobseekers who took part.
Around the world, people with disabilities are half as likely to participate in the labour force than non-disabled people and, even when they do, are twice as likely to be unemployed. Opportunities to access work can be limited by stigma, discrimination and a lack of accessible workplaces. At the same time, businesses that aspire to be more inclusive say they lack the confidence to do so.
An Inclusive Futures employment programme aimed to address this challenge by working with private employers including Diageo, Unilever, Safaricom and Coca Cola to make their operations more inclusive. It also worked to understand the aspirations, barriers and vulnerabilities facing people with disabilities in accessing employment to support them to develop skills to compete in the job market.
The programme has had many successes, like the IT Bridge Academy in Kenya, which has outperformed mainstream CISCO academies by achieving an almost 100% pass rate. This led to a significant number of graduates working at Safaricom in paid internships. Work with the Nigeria Business Disability Network to increase the number of companies that want to be inclusive and work with Diageo, in Kenya to make their supply chains more inclusive has also had a positive impact. Diageo has committed to 3% of their workforce being made up of people with disabilities by 2025.
Eric Kiniti, Group Corporate Relations Director, at East African Breweries said, “Before…we didn’t know how to do it. But now we’ve found a credible partner, we are excited to roll this out: we’re looking to scale it up into a bigger platform and into the other markets we operate in.”
Simon Brown, Sightsavers’ global technical lead for economic empowerment said, “The programme has seen some amazing results, and there’s a lot to be proud of. In three years, we’ve demonstrated that labour systems can adapt to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. But commitments and action from business leaders and governments, as well as investment, are essential to bring that to scale.”