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ILO/JAPAN MEETING TO FOCUS ON TRAINING, EMPLOYMENT NEEDS OF DISABLED PEOPLE

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Bangkok--Jan 8--ILO
Renewed effort to promote full participation and rights of people with disabilities to 'Decent Work'

The International Labour Organization (ILO), a strong proponent of the rights of disabled people to vocational training and employment, will hold the ILO/Japan Technical Consultation on Vocational Training and Employment of People with Disabilities on 14-16 January at the United Nations' Conference Centre in Bangkok.

Half the world's disabled population lives in Asia and the Pacific, and 238 million of this group is of working age. People with disabilities are disproportionately underrepresented in schools and training centres, and without the opportunity of education and training, this group faces additional hurdles in securing jobs or starting businesses. People with disabilities often face obstacles that are physical, social, attitudinal and policy-related, which ultimately represents discrimination. The end result is that people with disabilities often face the prospect of poverty and a lack of employment opportunities.

The meeting in Bangkok is aimed at engaging social partners in a renewed effort to promote the full participation and rights of people with disabilities to decent work. Participants will be examining the current situation for people with disabilities in the region with regard to training and employment within the context of the ILO's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention (No 159) and the recently adopted Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace. They will also focus on what needs to be done to meet the training and employment targets adopted by governments in the region in Otsu, Japan in October 2002 as part of the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action.

Countries that ratify Convention 159 pledge to develop programmes and practices to implement a vocational rehabilitation policy based on equal opportunity and treatment for disabled people, in consultation with groups representing disabled people, employers and workers. So far, six countries in this region - Australia, Japan, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea - are among the 73 countries which have ratified Convention 159.

Representatives of and for people with disabilities will be joined by tripartite delegations from Australia, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, representing government, workers' and employers' groups.

Several of these countries will also be attending a Project Consultation on Friday, 17 January at the UNCC on the topic 'Employment of People with Disabilities - The Impact of Legislation'. This project, funded by the Government of the Republic of Ireland through the Ireland Aid-ILO Partnership Agreement, examines the operation of laws and policies to promote employment opportunities for disabled people. It provides technical assistance for countries in Asia and Africa to improve the effectiveness of existing legislation or developnew laws and regulations so that job-seekers with disabilities have greater success in finding decent work.

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the opening ceremony.
Interview slots may be pre-arranged for the following:
Venus Ilagen, World Chair, Disabled Peoples' International
Barbara Murray, Manager, Equity Issues, Skills Development Department (IFP/SKILLS), International Labour Organization (ILO)
Debra Perry, Senior Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation, EASMAT/BAO, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

* Please confirm your attendance with Steve Thompson, ILO Public Information Officer, who will arrange your press pass. Please note that this is also the focal point for interview requests with senior ILO officials and leading participants.

Telephone + (662) 288-2482, Fax + (662) 288-3062, E-mail: thompsons@ilobkk.or.th   End.
-TM-

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