Two Thursdays ago (November 20), I was a witness to yet another one in a series of job fairs geared towards assisting Persons With Disabilities get employment. As far as I know, there were more than four job fairs of this kind held for this year alone.
A job fair is basically an activity where companies who are in need of workers assemble together in one place, normally in a mall or a government facility, make booths/tables, post their want ads and await for walk-ins and prospective applicants. It may be a whole day affair or sometimes even longer. After receiving their application forms and giving short interviews, the applicants would undergo further tests or what-haves in order for the employer to filter out and finally select the right person for the job.
I believe companies joining job fairs pay a certain “joining fee” before they participate. This is a win-win situation for them because they can immediately hire a person on the spot, thus lessening the cost compared to posting wanted ads on newspapers and other media. They can also use the venue as an opportunity to advertise their companies and promote their products and services to the general malling public. However, I think their fees are waived on this specific event because it’s sponsored by the mall owner, a non-government organization and two government agencies as part of their advocacy programs.
That’s basically what I experienced on this job fair. “JOBS 4 ALL, (Trabaho Para sa Lahat kasama ang mga may K) Local and International Hiring” at SM North EDSA Activity Center was a joint project of Rotary Club of Ramon Magsaysay District 3810 Manila, SM Supermalls and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA). The event was also in collaboration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Quezon City Public Employment Service Office (QC-PESO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
What’s unique in this job fair is that there was also a skills demonstration of persons with disabilities where our deaf students participated in together with other groups. They showed their talents in information technology specifically in web designing and graphics animation.
Now going back to my question, are jobs fair really fair? As I was moving around trying to mingle with the jobless crowd, I overheard that some companies were not really serious on accepting PWD applicants. (This is one of the advantage of people thinking you’re deaf. They unknowingly blurt out their thoughts. hehehe) They were just there to get free publicity or probably free food. Some were even disappointed and wondered why they ever participated.
A deaf applicant approached me and sought my interpreting assistance. He asked one company official about his chances of getting accepted. To my surprise, the officer replied that he would first ask his superiors if they are open to hiring disabled persons. Wow! Why would they join in job fairs for PWD in the first place if they are not really bent on accepting them? I almost reacted violently. However, I calmly asked him about their company’s purpose of joining this job fair if they are not sure of accepting disabled applicants. For which he answered safely by saying it’s not his decision.
As of my personal count, there were less than 50 companies that participated in the event. I learned from NCDA that as per their agreement, they would accept companies to join in the fair provided that they promise to hire at least one person with disability. I will try to follow up with NCDA if those companies really did what they promised. However, with the initial information I gathered, I doubt if they will. I still hope they will.
Is there some kind of a monitoring system where these companies would do what they promised especially on holding job fairs? Was there a research/survey on the benefits of job fairs in terms of percentage of people hired as compared to the total number of walk-in applicants? Paging, Department of Labor and Employment! I believe it’s your work to determine if job fairs are really effective. You could just imagine the sheer frustrations experienced by these helpless jobless PWD applicants in preparing for this activity only to find out that these companies are not really serious in hiring them!
I’m not pushing for companies to accept disabled people simply because they have to or they were forced to do so. I’m for equal opportunity for everybody regardless of disability and to focus solely on qualifications. But with some companies joining job fair capitalizing only on free publicity, it would really be UNFAIR for ALL.
Special thanks to the special people of NCDA led by Ma’am Nelia De Jesus, Dandy Victa and Rolly Fernandez and of course the newly appointed Executive Director Geraldine Ruiz. They really did a swell job in coordinating these people and staging this event. Organizing major events like this are no walk in the park.This blogger salutes you. 🙂
PS: Kudos to Raph Torralba for the amazing photos. 🙂