Call for more job opportunities for persons with disabilities

COVID-19’s effects on Barbados’ economy – both direct and indirect – have underscored the need for more support systems and access to job opportunities for persons with disabilities.

That was the view shared by Ros Jackson, Managing Director of Caribbean Catalyst Inc., during the online announcement of Pamela Edwards as the recipient of the 2022 Kregg Nurse Scholarship Award.

Caribbean Catalyst gives the scholarship to a disabled person who successfully completed at least one year of post-secondary school education, with plans on furthering their education at the tertiary level.

Jackson contended that while the average Barbadian would have had a difficult time during the first several months of COVID-19 lockdowns because of the effect on employment, members of the disabled community had it much harder.

“COVID-19, in my view, has made the purpose of this award even more urgent and important. Many people with disabilities are by the very nature of their disability, more susceptible to contracting viruses. They need to be adequately protected, to be given the opportunities to develop their abilities,” she explained.

Jackson noted that the late Nurse, a former Ernst and Young employee after whom the award is named, never allowed his disability to stop his academic pursuits.

She said he had clearly demonstrated the need for employers in any sector to have more faith in disabled persons.

“Finding meaningful work is central to what Kregg represented, and how he made an amazing contribution to the organisation two decades ago. This is to be the essence of his legacy, and his legacy needs to resonate with employers and potential employees with disabilities.

“If employers are not open to doing things to accommodate people with disabilities, then people with disabilities who really want to do meaningful work have a hard time fulfilling that goal. In spite of COVID, and because of it, employers need to proactively set out to, where possible, hire persons with disabilities,” Jackson said.

Edwards thanked the committee behind the 18th Caribbean Catalyst Kregg Nurse Memorial Scholarship for recognising her current efforts to complete her Bachelor’s in Accounting, despite her trials with multiple sclerosis (MS).

“It is with a heart of gratitude that I express thanks to Caribbean Catalyst Inc. for your unwavering dedication in supporting the Kregg Nurse Memorial Scholarship for 17 years. Due to that commitment, I am being honoured today.

“MS indeed had delayed the completion of my degree programme, but I never gave up. The scholarship will offer assistance in covering the financial expenses associated with completing the degree. In addition, it is with extreme gratitude to my Heavenly Father, who has kept me strong mentally and physically so that I can continue to pursue the Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and other goals I have,” the award recipient said.

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