Employment opportunities still low for people with disabilities, says Socso CEO

Employers with a lack of education and awareness on the subject is also among the contributing factors


THE social stigma attached to people with disabilities (OKUs) is still the main hindrance for them having a fair chance of being employed.

Social Security Organisation (Socso) CEO Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said employers with a lack of education and awareness on the subject is also among the contributing factors to the low percentage of employment among OKUs.

“Some of the constraints faced by OKUs include lack of support and motivation from family members, lack of confidence post-injury or disability, poor access in remote areas for rehabilitation, lack of transportation access to workplace and education deficiency on rehabilitation potential,” he said at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mohammed Azman said disabled or injured individuals also have the right for equal access to education and employment.

“This right is clearly stated in our Federal Constitution. We have to change these mindsets at the grassroot level,” he said.

He added that newspaper reports often portray those who are getting cheques from fundraisers after a mishap as helpless people with limitations.

“We hardly see the positive aspects or the abilities of the affected individuals in the articles,” he said.

According to statistics from Socso’s Return to Work (RTW) programme, some 25,891, or 71.4% of the participants had been successfully rehabilitated and returned to work between January 2007 and July 31, 2019.

Mohammed Azman said Socso provides vocational training to increase new job potential for OKUs to retain their skills.

“Through the RTW programme, it is indeed our primary goal to increase the capacity of insured persons in both mental and physical, before restoring them to work,” he said.

He added that the total number of employment injuries reported has increased over the last five years, from 63,331 cases in 2014 to 72,631 cases last year.

“This was largely contributed by commuting accidents, which rose to 35,195 in 2018 versus 28,307 cases in 2014.

“(The total number of) industrial accidents, on the other hand, has remained the same over the five years period of around 35,000 annually,” he said.

Compensation for employment injury has also shown an upward trend over the last five years, reaching RM1.1 billion in 2018, against the RM866 million that was recorded in 2014.

Meanwhile, to bridge the barriers for disabled and injured persons to return to their career, Socso also offers various programmes including support by case manager and employment services officer before and after employment; disability equality training; seminars and conferences; recognition to employers; RTW Coordinators programme and double tax deductions.

Mohammed Azman said there has been a rise in OKUs’ recruitment and their productivity post-rehabilitation.

“Employers now frequent our offices or call us to ask for candidates. We can also see the outcomes across industries, where if one member of the industry starts hiring and sees the potential, the rest will follow suit.

“In fact, some employers after working with us have even raised the bar by setting key performance indicators (KPIs) on hiring of disabled persons of 1.8% of their total workforce. “We have also seen some that have raised the KPIs, performing better than their rival companies,” he said.