Building a future with decent work for youth

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QIA breaking barriers for young persons living with disability

"...with the help I received I have been able to transform my hobby into a source of livelihood as an upcoming caterer..."

Work of decent quality is the most effective means of escaping the vicious circle of marginalization, poverty and social exclusion for persons living with disabilities. Youth unemployment is generally high in Zimbabwe but the challenges faced by youth with some form of disability are especially acute. Perceptions and structural barriers make it hard for a person living with disabilities to gain incomes and to take their place in society.

Having realized that youth living with disabilities are at a higher risk of poverty, the Government of Zimbabwe and the International Labour Organization are systematically targeting the inclusion of persons with disability to enhance their skills for employability. One of the strategies employed by the Skills for Youth Employment and Rural Development Programme has been to make quality improvement in the informal economy (QIA). It is often the fate of the few persons with disabilities, who are economically active, to work in the informal economy. People with disabilities working in the informal economy often earn less than their non-disabled counterparts and face precarious working conditions. The QIA programme promotes equality of opportunity and treatment for persons with disabilities in vocational rehabilitation, training and employment.

Recent QIA graduate, Annisa Matandike, a 30 year old woman from Mutare district, Manicaland Province is representative of this newfound optimism. When she completed her Ordinary level studies in 2001, Annisa failed to pursue further studies. As a person living with a disability, albinism, she felt she had limited options in life.

"From a very young age I wanted to learn the technical skills of restaurant management, I did acquire some skills through initiation and observation from my aunt," said Anne. Community perceptions and her family's insistence that she pursues a white collar job meant she had to wait longer to realize her dream. "They kept telling me that no one could earn a living and sustain a good life from catering. It was their dream for me to work in an office. They ignored the fact that such jobs were nowhere to be found in my community," continued Annisa.

 In January 2013, Annisa joined the QIA project, she was enrolled at Magamba Vocational Training Centre for orientation training. She was part of the group enrolled for Restaurant Management and Confectionary. The training lasted two weeks during which she was equipped with the theoretical aspects of her chosen vocation. She was elated that a person with disability was also included, "it is common knowledge that most people want to be associated with only able bodied people but the QIA programme, exceeded my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find two other people with disability in my group at the training centre". Annisa believes the experience will go a long way to show the community that young people with disability can live productive lives.

At the end of the orientation training apprentices, like Annisa, are placed as apprentices under a Master Craftspersons. Annisa is now gaining practical experience and a better understanding of the catering business at 'Granny's Kitchen', a restaurant in the central business district of Mutare.

"I can now prepare three course meals, undertake portion control at ease, as well as construct meat pies and other confectionary products. All these things seemed like an elusive dream prior to my training," Anne said. She speaks of her many dreams for the future with conviction and among them she hopes to start her own business when she has completed her apprenticeship.