‘Opportunity Network for the Disabled' is a new initiative aimed at mainstreaming the differently abled by facilitating employment in different sectors

Employing the differently-abled can be more productive for business. That is the goal of a new initiative that aims to reach out to one lakh differently-abled students spread across eight states in the next five years.

Non-profit organisation Wadhwani Foundation has entered into a partnership with the American India Foundation (AIF) to train and place persons with disability through AIF's Market Aligned Skills Training Programme.

According to Ajay Kela, president and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation, five to six per cent of the population is differently-abled and their representation in corporate India is less than 0.5 per cent.

‘Opportunity Network for the Disabled' is a new initiative where persons with disability would be given skill training programme such that it helps them get sustainable high quality jobs, said Mr. Kela.

While AIF would identify and train potential candidates, the Wadhwani Foundation is connecting with corporates in various sectors to employ the skilled.

Retail, hospitality, BPO, IT, ITeS and infrastructure management are some of the potential sectors. Candidates who have completed class X or XII would be chosen for the programme where training would be offered depending on the level of disability – hearing impaired, visually challenged, physically challenged, etc – to be employed in a sector.

Nearly 5,000 people have been enrolled for the pilot programme, which would be extended every quarter.

Mr. Kela also pointed out that the level of attrition is less when people with disability are employed.

As the programme scales up, the foundation is also planning to create a social networking site to enable potential candidates to log in and register with their requirements.