Lana, is a 31-year-old young lady and a wheelchair user, who has been looking for a job for years after graduating from the university. In the interview with us, she talks about the challenges that she, as a person with disabilities, has been facing in the job-seeking process.

Lana, you got a higher education. You graduated from the university in 2014 and has been looking for a job since then. Before sharing your job search experience, could you, please, tell us what was the education process like for you as a wheelchair user?

Most of the challenges are related to a lack of an adapted environment. Neither school nor the university offered an adapted infrastructure, which made it very difficult for me to move. In all other respects, I have never had any problems either studying or communicating with teachers. Though, there were some difficulties when communicating with children at school. At first, it was
difficult at the university too. I was facing some relationship barriers there as well, but then people around got used to me and I also got accustomed to it, and I’m glad that I have some university friends up until now.

Lana, as you’ve mentioned, you are looking for a job now. In what area would you like to work?
I’m interested in the digital industry field. I have completed a couple of advanced training courses in this area, but if there are other suitable opportunities, I would agree to that as well.

Could you, please, share your job search experience? In what way are you trying to find a job and how does this process proceed?
I am trying to find a job on my own, as well as through the state-run and NGOs’ employment promotion programs. They also try to help me, but it is hard for us to find remote work in Georgia. It is very difficult, literally impossible. I am also looking for a part-time job with a suitable salary, of course, but I can’t find any in the labor market.

In your opinion, what is the reason for that?
My observation is that most of the job vacancies for the disabled imply a physical labor load. They are employed, for example, in workshops, sewing shops, in positions that require physical labor. Regrettably, I won’t be able to do that, because I have a mobility problem. As for intellectual work, there is little demand for them. On some occasions one may become a target of unscrupulous employers, seeking to make one work without any remuneration. I also attended numerous employment forums. I left my CV, but I have never got any response from there either. Oftentimes, the employers are present at those forums for a sake of mere formality. They offer you job opportunities, but they tell you that they do not have an adapted environment. There is neither a flexible job vacancy nor an adapted infrastructure – how are they going to facilitate people with disabilities? Basically, there are the following barriers – non-remote jobs, full-time employment requirement, unadapted infrastructure. And also, there is an obvious demand for a three-year work experience. But how am I supposed to get work experience if I have not been employed by anyone? Apart from the abovementioned factors, there is also a noticeable distrust on part of employers. They believe that since you’re are a person with disability, you will hardly be able to do the job properly.

Have you ever noticed such attitude, i.e. non-confidence in your ability to work properly, on part of an employer during a job interview?
Yes, I have noticed it. Whether I will be able to take responsibility if employed to this or that position and whether I am capable of doing the job or not has been always particularly emphasized. This lack of confidence is felt in conversation. Of course, no one will tell you straight that you are a disabled person and one does not want to employ you, but it can be felt through questions and attitudes. Regrettably, I have rarely met an easygoing, free and open employer.

What changes, improvements do you wish to see in the Georgian labor market?
Creation of a well-adapted environment in the companies, more flexible jobs in the labor market (remote, part-time job opportunities). In addition, it would be nice if some awareness-raising trainings on the attitude towards the disabled could be delivered to employers. I wish the employers could communicate with us, hire us on a probationary period so that they could see what we can do.

Author: Tamar Zviadadze, Development and Engagement Platform

This article has been produced by Development and Engagement Platform, within the project “Promoting Employability of Youth with Disabilities” funded by the European Union under its Eastern Partnership Civil Society Fellowship Programme. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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