People with disability get job opportunities

After three years, a Nuanua o le Alofa-run internship program continues to offer a pathway to formal employment, for people living with a disability.

Nuanua o le Alofa Manager, Mataafa Faatino Utumapu, told Samoa Observer that only 3.9 per cent of the disability population in Samoa have formal employment.

She said the objective of their program is to develop a pathway for people living with a disability who are seeking employment and equipping them with the right skills.

“The goal behind this program is to develop a path for people with disabilities that are seeking employment by equipping them with the right skills so that they are able to learn and go into the workplace with that kind of readiness to take on the challenges,” she said.

Currently, the challenges that face people living with a disability is their accessibility to the physical environment of a potential employer and whether their information system is user-friendly.

“That is some of the challenges that lead to the unemployment of people with disabilities. Even though opportunities are available, they cannot access it due to other barriers,” added Mata’afa.

The program run by the organisation was previously just a week-long, according to the Manager but feedback from employers compelled them to increase it to two weeks.

“Normally, we would have a program for a week, and we experienced that a lot of the employers reckon that this is not enough time for anyone who wants to do this kind of thing. So we extended the program to two weeks, and every year we continue to take in new members to the program."

Mata’afa said they have had positive feedback from employers, and a number of organisations have offered opportunities to their students, even permanent employment. 

“A number of institutions have offered people with disabilities the opportunity to take programs, for instance, one of the training institutions is having a certificate in basic skills development,” she added. “Some of the employers have employed people with disabilities who were part of this internship program. We recently had conversations with the United Nation Organisation to consider having opportunities available for people with disabilities to be employed there."

Currently, Nuanua o le Alofa is negotiating with the United Nations to support the program by identifying opportunities for its participants.

Mata’afa also acknowledged the support of the Australian Government, through its Direct Aid Program for supporting them and financing other initiatives connected with persons living with disabilities through the Samoa Disability Program.

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