Islamabad: On Monday, Persons with disability (PWD) received certificates for three-month training aimed at enhancing awareness, accessibility and inclusion of PWDs.
Organised under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Telenor, the training was part of the ‘Open Mind Pakistan’ initiative under which the employ-ability of 50 PWDs has been enhanced through skill development, mentoring and on-job training. This year, 13 trainees have graduated from the programme.
“Actually I have learnt a lot from my PWD co-workers,” said one of the line manager who works with two PWDs. “Just yesterday, one PWD colleague brought his pay slip to me. I thought he wanted raise in the pay. Instead, he said I am awarded less work as compared to the pay,” said the line manager.
The graduating trainees were shortlisted in October last year through a comprehensive testing and screening process specially modified to be accessible for visual and hearing impaired. Selected candidates were given functional and on-job training for three months. Out of the graduating candidates, eight will be placed in different departments at the same multinational company for 9 months, giving them first-hand experience of the corporate world and taking their on-job training to the next level.
“Every year, we receive thousands of applications but we have limited space,” said Manager CSR Abdullah Abdul Rehman. He said that 25 per cent trained under this program are retained by the organization whereas 25 per cent are referred to other organizations. “The selection is made completely on merit base after thorough observation of the tendencies and capabilities of the trainees,” he added.
PWDs attended the ceremony with their families, along with significant stakeholders and representatives of a number of multinational companies looking into the possibility of replicating the model in their companies.
Promoting diversity and inclusion at workplace, their organization has focused on mainstreaming disability by building strategic partnerships, raising awareness through advocacy, training and volunteerism, ensuring building accessibility and enabling inclusion in the workforce, said Abdullah Abdul Rehman.
Congratulating the new graduates, Michael Foley, Chief Executive Officer at Telenor Pakistan said that they believe in diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “As we aim for empowering societies, we strive to bring Persons with disabilities into the employment mainstream so this amazing talent pool can realize their dreams and contribute more effectively to the society,” he said.
Since its inception, Open Mind Pakistan has written many success stories. Besides many trainees finding permanent positions within the organisation, many have found employments at esteemed organizations like the British Council and HBL. One of the trainees has been running his own coaching institute ‘Angels Academy’ in Lahore.