Over the past three years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) Association to help hundreds of people with disabilities to prepare for and enter the workforce.
The Inclusive Training and Employment Program for and by persons with disabilities, also known as ISTEP, was designed to bolster Ethiopia’s efforts to support disability inclusive development.
Because the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce is a relatively new concept in Ethiopia, ISTEP addressed the challenges faced by both the prospective employees and potential employers.
To better prepare prospective employees with disabilities, ISTEP worked with 21 mainstream Technical Vocational Education and Training institutes (TVETs) and universities to improve their institutional capacity to provide skills development training for people with disabilities and trained approximately 750 instructors and support staff.
Several of these institutions are now making campuses more accessible to people with disabilities. With support from ISTEP, nearly 300 people with disabilities were enrolled in TVETs and received skills training in areas including food preparation, making leather products, construction and metal works. ECDD also helped job seekers with disabilities to be stronger job candidates by helping them to prepare resumes and get ready for interviews.
ISTEP also worked with the City Administrations in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, as well as the regional administrations in Tigray and SNNPR to create a more enabling environment for self and formal employment of people with disabilities.
The program then worked with more than 70 companies to encourage them to take on people with disabilities for internships and paid positions and to train their human resources staff on best practices for integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces.
So far, 88 TVET and university graduates with disabilities have secured formal jobs with employers like the Mosaic Hotel and Kedir Yasin Metal Work PLC, while another 168 have received valuable hands-on experience through internship placements in private and public sector workplaces. In addition, 93 TVET graduates with disabilities received support to start their own individual or joint businesses.
“Before I began work, people did not want to even shake my hand, as if my blindness would pass on to them. But the situation changed after I got employed – there was a complete change of attitude. I feel my pride restored and feel respect in the community because of what I have achieved.’’ Lukas Zida, Counselor at Otana High School in Wolayta Sodo and an ISTEP beneficiary.