DISABLED people hold little hope for a forum which aims to boost their dwindling employment chances. Their worries are fuelled by an increase of almost 20 per cent in the number of disabled job-seekers who registered with the Labour Department in the first 10 months of the year, compared with the same period of last year. Overall unemployment stands at 3.6 per cent, the highest in 11 years. Rehabilitation groups hope the forum will at least remind employers to consider handicapped workers, despite the present economic downturn. More than 200 large companies will attend the second disabled job placement forum on Thursday. It is organised by the Labour Department, several chambers of commerce and personnel management groups. There will be seminars, workshops, exhibitions and video displays to encourage employers to recruit disabled people, and disabled workers will be invited to talk. Hong Kong Rehabilitation Alliance secretary Karen Ngai Ling Kam-har said the forum would be a good education for the public, but wondered whether it would secure jobs. Many disabled had been hit hard by the climbing jobless rate, she said. 'Some have to apply for unpaid leave for several months to cut their companies' costs and keep their jobs. They think this is a short-term sacrifice but better than being totally unemployed,' she said. 'Many low-paid clerical jobs which used to be taken by disabled people now attract able-bodied workers because of high unemployment.'