For Anuradha S, a cost accountant with a visual impairment, re-entering the corporate world after a seven-year break post-marriage seemed next to impossible. But that changed when she attended the job fair organised by We Are Your Voice in Chennai last Sunday.
She first heard about the job fair, held in the Loyola College campus, from a friend. “Up until the time I applied, I wasn't sure if I could re-enter the corporate world after my break. But there, I was shortlisted by three different recruiters and that gave me some hope,” she smiles.
Anuradha – who has partial vision – now has a job in IBM that matches her qualification and experience. “The recruiters were very understanding about my health as well. I am very grateful to the organisers,” she gushes.
We Are Your Voice works to provide employment opportunities for the disabled and this is the fourth edition of their job fair. Kasim Basith, its founder, says that the response for the job fair has grown significantly over the years.
“At first, we had just four recruiters and four candidates, who were all hearing- and speech-impaired. Our initiative kept growing steadily every year and last year we had 4,000 candidates who attended the job fair,” he says.
The turnout this year too was phenomenal.
Ashok AJ, a volunteer at the fair, was taken aback by the number of people who attended. “Close to 5,000 people from across the country came! We also had a good number of volunteers who signed up to help organise the fair,” he says.
Last year, all candidates were welcome – no matter their qualifications. This year though, in a bid to regulate the flow of candidates, only graduates were allowed to take part.
From 848 shortlisted candidates last year, that fair saw 1,645 candidates being shortlisted this year. “272 candidates were offered a job on the spot this time. It is a huge boost for us,” Kasim says.
The recruiters too doubled this year. The fair had 200 recruiters from several companies like IBM, Accenture, Bank of America, Royal Bank of Scotland, etc., in addition to other private, small-time companies.
According to the organisers, as per the Indian Census of 2011, out of a population of 121 crore, 2.68 crore people are disabled – which means 2.21% Indians are disabled.
“The segment of unemployed graduates with disability is highly under-represented in our country. We felt that they are not being given the right kind of platform to express their talents. While corporates too have a good integration of corporate social responsibility in this regard, we hope to be a medium that brings them together,” says Kasim.
The We Are Your Voice team mapped the skills from 3,200 online registrations that came in this year to the available requirements. This helped them chart out a better plan this edition of the fair.
“A lot of them have been calling and texting to tell us that this job fair has given them a huge boost in terms of encouragement and confidence. This is exactly what we hoped to achieve,” smiles Kasim.