The main prerequisite to economic growth and personal well-being is the high rate of employment in the country. For people with disabilities (PWDs) employment is not only the guarantee of financial autonomy and stability, but also independent life and social inclusion. In addition to improving the livelihood conditions of certain individuals, the increase in the employment rate of persons with disabilities also has the potential to boost the economic growth of the country. The decrease of the unemployment rate among this social group will reduce the dependence on pension payments and increase the number of tax-payers in the country. Promotion of employment is also important in terms of social inclusion since it contributes to physical and mental health, personal well-being and self-development.
***The photos have been created in the framework of the USAID-funded Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE) program.
Prioritizing the disability employment issue, the Armenian government has provided certain privileges both for employees with disabilities and their employers. Nevertheless, the employment rate among persons with disabilities is considerably lower than among the general population` 8-9%. The factors interfering with increase in the employment rate among persons with disabilities are legislative gaps and discrepancies, the discriminatory attitudes of employers towards job-seekers with disabilities, the inaccessible workplaces, lack of awareness, accessible public transportation as well as lack of professional qualifications and skills among PWDs. A number of programs towards challenging the above mentioned issues are regularly implemented by the disability-oriented NGOs in Armenia and, as a result, substantial progress in the employment conditions of PWDs has been made. The idea of disability employment has undergone a drastic change, turning from charitable initiatives into an effective human resource management strategy. Persons with disabilities are now successfully employed in leading Armenian companies such as VicaCell MTS, Orange, Security Dream as well as the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations and various NGOs.
One of the more comprehensive programs aimed at disability employment currently implemented in Armenia is the Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE) for Persons with Disabilities program (2012-2015) funded by USAID and implemented by Save the Children in partnership with Unison NGO, HDP Foundation, Full Life NGO and Activa International Foundation. The program aims at fostering equal employment conditions for people with disabilities through skills development among PWDs, capacity building among service providers, NGOs and Technical Vocational Educational Institutions, awareness-raising as well as lobbying for the development of a National Strategy and Policy aimed at disability employment. To promote employment among PWDs the jobs.disability.am website has been developed, where you can register as a job-seeker, search for vacancies in organizations that have adopted non-discriminatory hiring policies as well as get acquainted with the relevant legislation.