Employment on the Horizon – Summer Jobs for Youth with Blindness and Visual Impairments
Only 25% of blind and visually impaired people in Israel are employed with very few of whom working in full time positions. Employers view people with disability as burdensome and as unlikely to be productive employees due to society’s stigma regarding people with disabilities.
Research shows that a key element for entry into employment as an adult is built on a positive experience in employment during the formative years as a youngster. Most Israeli teenagers are able to find summer jobs and afternoon employment during the school year, and hence experience their first job and acquire the necessary skills for their future employment. Unlike them, visually impaired teens are at a distinct disadvantage. Since most employers do not understand this specific need or are unable to provide the training and personal attention these teens require, visually impaired teens who apply for temporary positions are categorically denied employment opportunities. This can lead to frustration, anger, apathy and a sense of worthlessness. Such a negative experience can lead to future experiences of failure and generate a vicious cycle of unemployment as adults. Employment on the Horizon specifically tackles obstacles in employment of people with visual impairment, creates a positive experience, and equips the youngster with a toolbox of skills and strategies they can employ when confronted as adults with the challenge of entry to the labour market.
The Goals of the Program
- Prepare visually impaired teens for a productive future through practical experience in the workforce.
- Raise levels of self-esteem and independence among visually impaired teens.
- Make the parents believe in the capabilities of their children, see them as independent and productive persons, and be proud of them.
- Raise awareness among the employers and their clients, and among the general public regarding the employability of visually impaired people.
- Increase knowledge regarding vocational training and placement of people with disabilities.
- Become an expertise center for youngsters with visual impairments and for professionals in the field.
This unique program that Ofek Liyladenu has been running since 2002, with a comprehensive approach to all aspects of the program: to training the teens, developing strong connections in the business sector that allows placement of visually impaired teens in workplaces around the country as well as offer guidance and support to supervisors and coworkers involved with each employed teen.
“The work placement helped me understand, that yes, I am able and can work in regular job and it doesn’t matter if I’m visually impaired or have other problem. I can still work like everyone else, this is a challenge which I can overcome.” Gal, 16 year-old.
“I participated in the program for three years. If I wouldn’t experience this positive work experience through the program, I think I couldn’t go through the frustrating period I experience now, when I’m on job search and receive many rejections. But I know I can do it and will find work eventually.” Orr, 26 year-old
“This is such an important program, and I believe that the experience is especially amazing and important for the teens. I am privileged to be part of it and so all our branch employers.“ D. a manager of Discount Bank branch.