Study shows Hong Kong’s disabled face harsh employment reality

New survey by CareER finds many employers are reluctant to hire people with a disability

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 10:23pm

The government has been urged to improve job access for people with disabilities after a recent study showed a reluctance among local employers to hire disabled individuals.

CareER, a group focused on helping students and graduates with disabilities, interviewed 103 employers and 206 disabled persons last month for the study.

Of the employers, just 17 per cent expressed interest in hiring disabled workers over the next three years while 55 per cent said they wouldn’t, and 27 per cent were unsure.

The main reasons for the reluctance included office environment limitations, unsuitable job nature and a lack of channels to meet applicants with disabilities.

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The finding contradicted a general perception among ­employers that disabled persons were no different from other workers when it came to their abilities.

While CareER’s study found 59 per cent of respondents with higher education qualifications had landed a job, 28 per cent had never worked before – far higher than the city’s overall unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent in August.

Job seekers also faced an average waiting time of five months before landing a job, with 36 per cent reporting to wait for more than half a year.

CareER’s founder, Walter Tsui urged the government to speed up application procedures for the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme, which provides employers allowances to facilitate the recruitment of disabled workers.

But Leung Kam-tao, senior manager at the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, said such programmes may not be enough.

“The biggest obstacle often hinges on whether employers were willing to try,” he said.

Leung said the government could explore legislating on the minimum number of disabled persons a company must hire, so that big corporations could fulfil their social responsibility.