Grandma's Tales

December 17, 2006

My other Avtaar 2

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 6:37 am

Ability Foundation (Chennai), where I spend a lot of time, is holding its third annual Job Fair for people with disabilties today. It is a one-day affair exactly on the lines of the others you hear about.
This time our co-hosts are Lions Club Padi-Shenoynagar and the CII (Yes!).
When we tried to do it for the first time ever in India, in 2004, we had a very tough time convincing the companies of the possibilities and the  potential of qualified disabled persons.  We had to knock at doors for several months. We would talk to the HR honchos, send e-mails asking them to participate , and after some 25 attempts,  someone would say, “Oh, do you want a donation?”
Now that is all in the past.
The first year 32 companies interviewed 650 candidates who came mostly from Tamil Nadu.
In 2005, there were 1600 candidates and the number of companies swelled to 55. Since we had sent the ad about the job fair to disability commissioners and district rehabilitation officers, candidates came from several parts of the country. We had also moved from the IT/ITES sector to manufacturing. Mr. Dayanidhi Maran, union telecom minister, visited the fair in 2005.
Today, Mr. Chidambaram, union minister for finance will be there at the Job Fair. But that is only a minor point. The major ones are:
[1] A record 70 companies are sending their reps to interview and hire people who are hearing-impaired, visually-impaired or orthopaedically impaired. And who are they? 33% IT/ITES and 66% non-IT/ITES. The list of companies includes all the big names – Siemens, ABN-AMRO, HCL, Wipro, HDFC,  Infosys,  Marg, Savera Hotel, DHL, SS Music, Accenture, Allsec Technologies, MPhasis, Ashok Leyland, NSK, IBM, HP… the point is this.
There are companies representing every economic activity in this country – manufacture, construction, logistics, hospitality, architectual concerns, accounting firms … and MNCs. The difference is also in their willingness to participate. I could say they are desperately looking for qualified manpower, the demands and the attrition rates being what they are. Good they have recognised this undeniable talent pool.
In fact, 15 companies held written tests on 16th . We got them a place to do that. We also conducted a seminar for the candidates where some experts told them how to face interviews. We have roped in the best guys for that. Many of the candidates are facing interviews for the first time. They have been waiting for this opportunity for several years now.
[2] The geography of the candidates: We have guys from Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, Orissa, Delhi, apart from the four southern states. Of these, only 40% are freshers. Others are all working and are trying to “enhance” their prospects. That is a good sign.
Of the aspirants from Tamil Nadu only 40% are from the capital city Chennai. Others are from the districts. Their resumes tell us of the educational infrastructure available in all the districts of Tamil Nadu.
The ten years of hard work we have put in seems to be bearing fruit. Our society is now getting to be inclusive.
[3] The qualifications of the candidates: BA, BSc, MA, MSc, B Tech, BE, M Tech, BDS, MBBS, CA, ACWA, Catering, and all kinds of computer apps. There are hundreds of candidates with C+++, SAP and JAVA knowledge. The total number of candidates is 1075.
[4] What does Ability Foundation do? Send out brochures to companies telling them it makes business sense to hire people with disabilities.Sometimes we tell them it is corporate social responsibility to be inclusive. We request the press to publish ads about the job fair to the press and others (mentioned above), hold press conferences (we had one two days ago), send out press releases, talk to TV channels, find a barrier-free place to hold the job fair (tough!).
Tougher is preparing the database of the qualifications and the disability of the candidates. We open the thousands of resumes sent in, put them in categories and once the companies send in their requirements, we match them. We make sure each candidate gets at least three interviews. It is a mammoth exercise. We work day and night keying in and matching. We are an all-women outfit.
I am happy to tell you I do all the writing (brochures, press releases, fact sheets). Those of you who have been reading the magazine Success & ABILITY know what I am talking about.
Send a couple of prayers for them, guys. One, they should find the right jobs, positions where they can shine, a good match. Also, more crucially, pray that it shouldn’t rain. Last year, rains gave us a real fright!

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