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Poll: Companies willing to hire disabled

By Wang Zhenghua | Updated: 2013-09-18 00:13

Most companies are willing to hire people with disabilities if they qualify for open positions, amid increasing awareness about corporate social responsibility and laws and regulations designed to protect the disadvantaged, a poll has found.

In the poll of 161 mostly privately owned businesses, conducted by the China Enterprise Confederation and International Labor Organization, 75 percent of respondents said they would like to employ people with disabilities, mainly because they believe these applicants have higher professional skills and companies have a social responsibility to employ them.

But NGO leaders and industry insiders warn that prejudice against people with disabilities continues and that there is a gap between companies' workforce demands and applications from disabled people.

Companies often cannot find suitable job candidates among people with disabilities, and skilled and qualified disabled people sometimes have difficulty finding a job.

NGO leaders and associations for people with disabilities urged governments to implement policies that protect the disabled and expand employment opportunities by encouraging institutions to offer job training for such applicants.

They are also advised setting up platforms for better communication between employers and disabled applicants.

The poll, released at the ILO Global Business and Disability Network's Shanghai meeting on Tuesday, found that specific job fairs and recommendations by organizations that serve the disabled are the two main channels for companies to hire people with disabilities.

Most of the companies polled said they pay employees with disabilities the same as other employees, and they are eager to offer other benefits and special care initiatives.

Problems exist

But problems remain for people with disabilities who are seeking work.

Many companies said they lack sufficient knowledge of the laws and regulations regarding people with disabilities to promote their employment, and companies are less experienced in hiring such people, said Ma Chao, a project manager at China Enterprise Confederation.

"In the feedback, 87 companies said they need external support in hiring people with disabilities, and many of them said they need training on how to manage affairs related to the group," he said.

China has made solid progress in helping disabled people find employment, and more than 5,200 specialized training centers have been set up nationwide.

At the end of 2012, about 4.45 million people with disabilities had jobs in cities and 17.7 million worked in the countryside, according to the China Diabled Persons' Federation.

Officials and NGO leaders warned that people with disabilities face severe challenges in finding work in China — 8.58 million disabled people of working age are unemployed.

"In recent years, the overall employment situation in China has remained grave, and the problem concerning the gap between demand and supply of the labor force has not been effectively settled," said Luo Qiuyue, head of the employment service guidance center at the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

The employment rate for people with disabilities remains low, with disabled females having more difficulty getting jobs than males, and discrimination and rights infringements are still common, she said.

To address the problem, NGOs and associations for disabled people urge governments to play a more active role, and social resources are encouraged to participate in training employers to help them find and hire qualified applicants with disabilities.

Zhuang Zhi, chairman of the Engmar Human Resources Group in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, said he looked forward to partnerships with disabled people's federations to promote employment.

Engmar, dedicated to serving all groups in society, helped 258 people with disabilities find jobs in the past three years.

Yang Yao in Beijing contributed to this story.

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