As part of advocacy for inclusive employment of persons with disabilities in Nigeria, Special Needs Initiative for Growth (SNIG) in partnership with Jobberman has piloted its first employment scheme project that collaboratively generates solutions regarding Nigeria’s 2018 legislation, which requires that five per cent of persons with disabilities be included into the Nigerian workforce.
The project involves a coalition of disability people organisations and educational professionals such as the Eliakim Associates – an organization that provides inclusive education and therapy for persons with developmental challenges in Nigeria; the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria – an organization that provides support resources for persons with Down syndrome in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, as of 2020, there are reportedly over 27 million Nigerians living with some form of disability. The five most common types of disabilities in Nigeria are, in descending order, visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment.
To this effect, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Prohibition Act, 2018 – The Act requires all employers of labour in public organisations to as much as possible have persons with disabilities, constituting at least five per cent of their employment.
However, an estimate of about 63 per cent of adults with disabilities in Nigeria are without paid jobs. Persons with disabilities are among some of the most vulnerable people in society due to their reliance on others for care and support to have a meaningful living.
The project which piloted at the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria on the 13th of September introduced employment soft skills curriculum such as critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, interpersonal effectiveness, communication skills, interpersonal effectiveness etc. in order to increase employability and employment outcomes of young adults with down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and visual impairment.
Thirty beneficiaries inclusive of special needs educators and caregivers have been benefiting from the employment soft skills training which was first inducted in July 2022 through virtual programming. Six special needs educators were inaugurated as facilitators on the employment of soft skills for persons with disabilities such as Innocent Okuru, Nkechinyere Alomaja, Juliet Okoi, Omolade Ebunoluwa, Abiodun Oyeniran and Kikelomo Olatunde.
The Learning and Youth Engagement Associates of Jobberman Nigeria, Adetayo Otokiti and Chukwuemeka Okeke stated that Jobberman in collaboration with the Special Needs Initiative For Growth is working to identify companies with opportunities that promote inclusive workspaces, so as to make these job opportunities available for qualified persons with disabilities to apply, be hired and be retained in the Nigerian workforce.
Executive Directors for the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria and Eliakim Associates in the persons of Mrs Amaka Awogu and Mrs Amaka Mokwe both welcomed the partnership between Jobberman and the Special Needs Initiative For Growth which aims to increase the number of young adults with disabilities as well as their special educators into having the relevant skills and expertise for employment in Nigeria.
The project will continue to expose the young adults with disabilities to various technical and employment soft skills opportunities that will foster them for employment and access to job creation for themselves, said the founding executive director for the Special Needs Initiative For Growth – Racheal Inegbedion.
The Program was supported by Global Youth Mobilization which aims to address the negative impact of the pandemic on young people and support them to build back better.