The Jakarta Post
Life may have been tough so far for Munfaida and her husband Riyadi, two polio survivors living in Semarang, Central Java. However, they are optimistic about their future. The couple currently takes part in a training program in the city to improve their sewing skills.
'I have been working for the Ida Modiste garment shop in Semarang. I heard this training offers an intensive course, so I decided to join it,' she said recently.
Fellow participant Sidiq, who was born in Jakarta, shared the same enthusiasm.
'I must study hard. That is the key to success,' said Sidiq, who does not have a right arm.
Munfaida, Riyadi and Sidiq are among 23 people with disabilities from across the country who joined a two-month training program held by Better Work Indonesia (BWI), a labor program under the auspices of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The program, which kicked off on September 1, is being held at the Griya Apac training center belonging to PT Apac Inti Corpora in Semarang.
BWI senior enterprise advisor Mohamad Anis Agung said the program was focused on improving participants' skills in the garment industry.
'We initiated the pilot project to help the disabled community in seeking jobs in the garment sector,' Anis said, adding that the pilot project is funded by the Australian government, through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Participants in the training session include polio survivors, hearing impaired people and those with upper or lower limb defects. The participants hail from various areas, including Semarang, Demak, Jakarta, Medan and Lombok.
According to the 2011 World Disability Report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, there are around 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, nearly 785 million of whom are of working age, but the majority of whom are unemployed.
'Those who are employed usually get lower salaries compared to able-bodied workers. The ILO recorded that 24 million, or 10 percent of the Indonesian population, have disabilities, and only 11 million of them are employed,' Anis said.
He said the pilot project in Semarang was expected to improve access to decent employment for members of the disabled community.
'We believe the pilot project would improve the skills and ability of the participants, so they would be able to compete in the workforce,' BWI chief technical advisor Simon Feld said.
The Griya Apac training center was selected because it is equipped with sewing machines commonly used by garment companies. Other training centers, such as the one in Cibinong, Bogor, West Java, only have sewing machines that are suitable for household purposes.
Anis said that Article 14 of Law No. 4/1997 on disabilities stipulates that employers have a responsibility to give an equal chance to people with disabilities to work in their companies.
The law explains that a company should employ at least one person with a disability out of every 100 employees. Meanwhile, Article 28 of the law stipulates that violating Article 14 is punishable with six months' imprisonment or a Rp 200 million (US$16,969) fine.
'However, many garment companies face difficulties in obtaining disabled workers who have adequate skills in sewing. On the other hand, many disabled people are unaware of job opportunities in garment factories,' said BWI disability program consultant Angela Friska, who is hearing impaired.
Griya Apac head Agus Subagyo said it was the first time that his company had provided training to people with disabilities.
'It [the training] is a positive challenge for us. We immediately built facilities, such as ramps, so [participants] could easily reach the training location. We also installed handles in the toilets,' Agus said.
PT Apac Inti Corpora assistant general manager of human resources and corporate affairs Djulian Imron said the program was also providing a learning experience for trainers.
'We are learning together. We learn to be patient because some of [the participants] are hearing impaired. We have to speak more slowly so they can read our lips and follow the lessons. This is a mutual learning process,' he said.
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