Over 500 organisations support movement for employment of persons with disabilities (with photos)

     The Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach in equipping persons with disabilities (PWDs) for employment and fully unleashing their potential, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, said today (March 13).

     The Government will continue to foster collaboration among the public, Government and business sector through various measures, including injecting an additional $100 million into the "Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprise" Project and enhancing counseling support for job seekers with disabilities in this financial year, with a view to providing employment and internship opportunities for PWDs.

     Addressing the 2016-17 Award Presentation Ceremony cum Experience Sharing Session of Inclusive Organisations of the Talent-Wise Employment Charter and Inclusive Organisations Recognition Scheme held by the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB) today, Mr Sui pointed out that the policy objective of the Government is to enable PWDs to find a suitable job for themselves and contribute to society with their talents by providing skills training and support services.

     Mr Sui said, "The relevant policy initiatives include the provision of occupational rehabilitation and training services, job-matching services in the open market, financial incentives to employers of PWDs, promoting the setting up of social enterprises to create job opportunities for PWDs, and fostering an inclusive culture.

     "In creating employment opportunities, the Government will inject an additional $100 million into the 'Enhancing Employment of People with Disabilities through Small Enterprise' Project launched by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and raise the maximum amount of grant for each business from $2 million to $3 million in the year of 2017/18.
     "This is to encourage non-government organisations to create more employment opportunities for PWDs by setting up social enterprises. Moreover, the SWD will continue to subsidise employers of PWDs in the procurement of assistive devices and workplace modifications so as to assist employees with disabilities in discharging their duties in the workplace and enhance their work efficiency through Support Programme for Employees with Disabilities.
      "The Labour Department (LD) implemented the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme to raise the competitiveness of PWDs in seeking employment. The scheme offers pre-employment training and provides allowance to employers in order to encourage employers to hire PWDs and provide them with appropriate training and support, including the appointment of mentors. In addition, in September last year, the LD launched a pilot scheme to engage welfare organisations to provide in-depth counselling services to job seekers with disabilities.
     "In order to better facilitate PWDs to adapt and integrate into the new working environment, we encourage employers to offer more internship opportunities to PWDs and appoint mentors to assist employees with disabilities. It is hoped that employers and colleagues would consider hiring PWDs with an open mind after realising their talents and abilities."

     Mr Siu noted that the internship programme launched by the Civil Service Bureau last year, which was targeted at students with disabilities, was an example of this. The Scheme set up the Outstanding Mentor Award this year with a view to commending and recognising the contribution of the mentors.

     To further promote the employment of PWDs, the Government continues to implement two pilot schemes, including raising the maximum level of disregarded earnings for recipients with disabilities under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, and providing an additional grant for eligible recipients of Higher Disability Allowance who are in paid employment to employ carers, including activities in office.

     Today's event aimed to give recognition to organisations for their efforts in the employment of PWDs and to pay tribute to outstanding mentors. It also invited participating organisations and employees to share their experience in promoting the employment of PWDs. 

     The Scheme was launched by the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (RAC), the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service under the auspices of the LWB in September 2013. The Scheme aims to mobilise the business sector, public bodies, subvented and non-governmental organisations, as well as Government departments to make collective efforts to create more internship and employment opportunities for PWDs by implementing a series of effective measures, thereby unleashing their potential and facilitating their full integration into society.

     The Scheme has been well received by the community. "I am pleased to learn that the Scheme has been receiving continued support from various sectors of the community. So far over 540 organisations, including over 130 small and medium enterprises, have joined the Scheme," Mr Sui said.

     Also officiating at the ceremony were the Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Miss Annie Tam; the Chairman of the RAC, Mr Anthony Yeung; the Chairman of the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities, Mr Benny Cheung; the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Mr Chua Hoi-wai; the Vice-Chairman of the RAC, Dr James Joseph Lam and the Chairman of the RAC Sub-committee on Employment, Mr Wilfred Wong.

     Mr Sui and other officiating guests presented the Friendly Employment Award and the Outstanding Mentor Award at the ceremony. The Friendly Employment Award recognises inclusive organisations which employ PWDs or promote employing PWDs to their business partners. The Outstanding Mentor Award recognises the mentors of inclusive organisations who assist employees with disabilities in coping with difficulties at work and integrating into the work team.

     Video clips on real employment cases of the awardees were shown at the ceremony. Employer representatives and employees with disabilities also shared their experience in facilitating the employment of PWDs.

     A regularly updated list of organisations participating in the Scheme has been uploaded onto the dedicated website (www.lwb.gov.hk/charter_scheme/index_e.html). The LWB will continue to actively implement the Charter and will, making reference to the experience and the views of participating organisations and stakeholders, introduce enhancement measures as and when appropriate to effectively assist the employment of PWDs.

Ends/Monday, March 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:27