EFC’S EMPLOYERS’ NETWORK ON DISABILITY CELEBRATE 2017 ICT GRADUATION

“When we talk of sustainable enterprises, we need to assure that no one in society is left behind. The Employers’ Network on Disability of the EFC – which champions this notion was set up way back in 1999 and implemented in 2001 – is a reflection of the foresight of my predecessors of the requirements in the ever-evolving world of work,” observed the Director General of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), Kanishka Weerasinghe. The EFC’s DG made these remarks at the 2017 Award Ceremony of the ICT Training Centre of the Employers’ Network on Disability held in November 2017  at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

The ICT Training Centre which was launched in 2009 with the support of the ILO is the nucleus of the Employers’ Network on Disability. Embracing the vision of ‘productive employment through social harmony’, its objective is to develop the employability skills of persons with diverse disabilities in the country.

The Employers’ Network on Disability which was inaugurated during the former EFC Chief, Gotabaya Dasanayake’s tenure as a CSR project has today evolved into a fully-fledged ICT training unit and an integral part of the EFC.  Lauding the Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre, Manique Gunaratne who was recruited by the EFC initially as a role model with disabilities and is now internationally acclaimed for her commitment towards people with disabilities, EFC’s DG  further said that her endeavors have become more valid in a setting where the number of visually impaired people is on the rise. “People with disabilities are very much a part of our work force and enhancing their confidence to be gainfully employed is of immense value to society.”

The awards ceremony was also graced by Simrin Singh, the Country Director for the ILO Country office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives and Melissa Paulsen, Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Colombo.  Congratulating the award winners who successfully completed ICT modules in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Computer Concepts, Windows Operations, Microsoft Powerpoint, Surfing the Internet, CISCO-ITE and CISCO CCNA and also spoken language skills, the ILO Country Director urged several other organizations to take a cue from the Disability Code promoted by the EFC which is on par with global standards. “People with disabilities are underutilized in the workforce and the EFC is facilitating a process of inclusion which is commendable,” noted Singh adding that EFC’s efforts in engaging with the private sector to champion the same is praiseworthy.

Urging everyone to celebrate the mettle of the award winners who have proven their skills despite the odds, Melissa Paulsen, Cultural Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Colombo remarked: “I encourage you to be each other’s advocates and support one another.”

Deputy General Manager, HRM, Commercial Bank PLC, Isuru Tillakawardana in his remarks noted that integrating the youth with different needs is imperative to realize a diverse work force, adding that as a country we have a long way to go in terms of mindset changes and streamlining processes to achieve the same. “Nevertheless we have taken the first step and EFC’s support in furthering the cause is significant.”

The award ceremony also marked the launching of several devices and mobile applications specially designed for the visually impaired. These included the Obstacle Finder, English Eye (an English learning app) Schmoozer Mobile Application (which assists the visually impaired to navigate material with charts and images) and Finger Reader which identifies objects for the visually impaired. The special devices were rendered expertise of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) and Singapore Institute of Technology. Several scholarships were also awarded to graduating students.

The ICT Training Centre of the EFC Disability Network which was recently upgraded with a special library and resource centre also collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT, Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 680 companies. The ICT Training Centre is also the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in the globally sought after CISCO courses. The training team consists of Manique Gunaratne and Mr. Anuradha Jayakody, Senior Lecturer from the SLIIT.

In her concluding remarks, Manager, Specialized Training and Disability Resource Centre, Manique Gunaratne urged more women with disabilities to come forward to become part of the work force. “Out of 1.6 million people with disabilities in Sri Lanka, 57%  are women and in considering the significant numbers, we will be launching a special women leadership programme in 2018,” she noted.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Welcoming the chief guest.

2 Welcoming the Guest of Honour.

3 Awarding of certificates for Cisco CCNA course

4 Group photograph of Cisco trainees.

5 Awarding certificates for Computer Concepts course.

6 Launch of the English Eye App.

7 Launch of the Finger Reader App.

8 Group photograph of the trainees.

9 Awarding certificates for Surfing the Internet course.

10 Speech by the Chair Person of EFC Network on Disability.

11 Awarding certificates for the Cisco ITE course.

12 Welcome speech.

13 Manique receiving certificates for all the international qualifications.

14 Comperes and sign language interpreter.

15 Speech by the Guest of Honour.

16 Awarding certificates for Microsoft Excel course.

17 Awarding certificates for Microsoft Word course.

18 Awarding certificates for Microsoft PowerPoint course.

19 Launch of the O Finder device

20 Lighting of the oil lamp.

21 Lighting of the oil lamp.

22 Participants.

23 Launch of the Schmoozer mobile app.

24 Awarding scholarships for University students.

25 Speech by the Chief Guest.

26 Awarding certificates for Spoken English course.

27 Speech by a trainee.

28 Awarding of tocan of appreciation to Mr. Anuradha Jayakody from SLIIT.

29 Awarding tocan of appreciation to Commercial Bank

30 Awarding tocan of appreciation to Cisco Sri Lanka.

31 Awarding tocan of appreciation to Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter.

32 Awarding tocan of appreciation to TVEC.

33 Awarding certificates for Windows Operations course.

Manique Gunaratne

Vice President – Rehab Lanka Sports Club for Persons with Disabilities

PUBLIC HEALTH MIDWIVES ARE SENSITIZED ON DISABILITY

Nestle Lanka organized a programme for 100 Public Health Midwives in all corners of Sri Lanka at Renuka Hotel in November 2017. The public Health Midwives were given the opportunity to develop their carrier and personality. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre conducted the session on “Motivation and Disability Etiquettes”. It is very important to sensitise the Public Health Midwives on the facilities to be provided for pregnant women with disabilities and mothers with disabilities who have kids.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique presenting

2 Participants

Manique Gunaratne

CISCO International Trainer for I T E (Information Technology Essentials) and CCNA (Cisco Computer Network Associates)

 

A GROUP OF PERSONS WITH DIVERSE DISABILITIES QUALIFIES IN CISCO CCNA

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities fully equipped with more than 50 devices specially designed for persons with disabilities and other software also collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia, Cisco Systems Sri Lanka and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 680 companies.

The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status in 2014 is one of the latest feathers in its cap. “This is a milestone of the ICT Training Centre as it is the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in CISCO courses. CISCO is a globally recognized IT qualification. Ms. Manique Gunaratne now joins the international team of trainers to conduct CISCO courses. In 2015, EFC commenced conducting Cisco Computer Network Associate Courses (CCNA). “Specialists reveal that persons with CISCO qualifications are often ranked in the top three highest paid slots. CISCO’s own research indicates that certified professionals often earn as much as 10% more than peers without CISCO credentials working in similar routing and networking jobs.”

The demand for IT workers with CISCO certifications often outstrips the supply. The three main objectives of introducing this globally recognized qualification to persons with disabilities. “The prime objective of it is to improve the computer knowledge and networking skills of them. Moreover, it aims to improve the employability of the trainees and create a group of trainers for future training needs.” The training team consists of Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Mr. Anuradha Jayakody, Senior Lecturer from SLIIT, Malabe. Three vision impaired persons, 3 hearing impaired persons and 2 persons with physical disabilities qualified in Cisco CCNA in November 2017.

 

Picture description for vision impaired persons:

1 Kumudu

2 Manique and Ahamed

3 Manique, Gamika, Samith and Chamila

4 Manique and Irunika

5 Manique and Kalinda

Manique Gunaratne

Executive Committee Member – Disability Organisations’ Joint Front

UN WOMEN INCLUDES WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES

CENWOR will be conducting a research on “Employment for women with disabilities”. The UN Women funded research will be very useful to empower women with disabilities in the grassroots level. An Orientation and Training Workshop for Enumerators & Field Research supervisors was held at the CENWOR auditorium in November 2017. Ms. Manique Gunaratne, member of the Advisory Board for the Project conducted the sessions on “Disability etiquettes and Accessible formats”.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique at the head table with the board members.

2 Manique presenting.

3 Manique presenting.

(Honoured, Deshabandu) Ms. H.K. Manique Gunaratne

THE EMPLOYERS’ SYMPOSIUM 2017, “SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISES – CREATING VALUE” INCLUDES DISABILITY IN THE AGENDA

Sustainability is the key for global development. The corporate world is no exception, and therefore has further recognized the value of this concept by adopting policies and practices that guarantee and promote sustainability within their respective ventures.  A Sustainable Enterprise is defined as a business that ‘meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs’.

Being a responsible National Employer Organization that constantly works towards achieving the best interests of the Employers whilst taking note of the interests of other stakeholders, The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon decided to theme this year’s Annual Employers’ Symposium on Sustainable Enterprises – Creating Value’.

The Symposium was held in November 2017, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, with a view to offering the Sri Lankan Corporates the opportunity to find workable solutions in implementing sustainable business practices that would enable them to create value to their businesses through better governance, talent retention, environmentally friendly business practices and successful management of logistics.

The Hon. Minister for Skills Development and Vocational Training was the Chief Guest.  Dr. Raman Ramachandran, Head of BASF for South Asia and Chairman/Managing Director of BASF companies in India, was the Guest of Honour and delivered the keynote address. BASF is the largest chemical producer in the world and Dr. Ramachandran, who holds over 25 years of diversified experience in research, operations, new market development and strategic planning, offered participants insights into developing strategies to meet future business challenges as well as those relating to the world of work.

Ms. Manique Gunaratne spoke on the “Employers’ Network on Disability to make diversity and inclusion at work place”.

The four panels in key areas of enterprise sustainability, comprised of erudite experts from their respective industries were as follows;

  • Governance
  • Managing Talent
  • Green Initiatives
  • Supply Chain

The Symposium was an excellent opportunity for participants to share their experience and gain knowledge and insight not only with regard to the emerging trends of sustaining enterprises but was also an excellent networking platform.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 EFC staff members.

2 Manique with the audience.

3 Manique presenting.

4 EFC staff members.

Manique Gunaratne

FaceTime: 0094779571918

ILO GLOBAL BUSINESS AND DISABILITY NETWORK

The “ILO Global Business and Disability Network 4th annual meeting and “National Business and Disability Networks ways forward for international collaboration” was held at the ILO Head Quarters in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2017. Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre made a presentation on “Activities of the Employers’ Network on Disability – Sri Lanka” at this event.

 

The ILO (International Labour Organisation) GBDN (Global Business and Disability Network) is a unique employers-led worldwide

Network of multinational companies, national employers’

Organizations, business networks and disabled people

Organizations (DPOs) working in collaboration to promote

The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace.

This year’s annual meeting highlighted the importance of

Digital accessibility for business success, showcase how skills

Gaps can be addressed by promoting disability-inclusive

Practices and provide a rare opportunity to exchange

Experiences and network among disability champions from

The private sector. During the meeting, there was also a

Welcome ceremony for the new members of the network.

There are National Business and Disability Networks (NBDNs) in over twenty countries. Many of these are developing or newly established. The ILO hosted this meeting to bring the networks and other international organizations together for the first time. Through both online and physical participation, NBDNs from all over the world shared their status, challenges and future plans.

 

Together with members of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN) and other key stakeholders, the meeting identified key issues to be addressed and points for collaboration. The meeting was particularly focused on supporting newly-established networks in developing countries.

 

Technical sessions covered:

  • Understanding the current situation of National and Business and Disability Networks around the world.
  • Technical support to national networks: what exists and what is needed in the future.
  • Allies and Advocacy: working with other stakeholders and influencing the enabling environment
  • Way forward for collaboration between national networks.

 

Picture description for vision impaired persons:

1 Day 1 Manique with the banner.

2 Day 1 conference.

3 Day 1 Manique  and Federica.

4 Day 1 group photograph.

5 Day 1 Manique.

 

6 Day 2 Manique with the participants.

7 Day 2 Manique at conference.

8 Day 2 Manique making presentation.

9 Manique with the ILO flags.

10 GBDN steering committee meeting.

11 Manique at United Nations.

12 United Nations.

Manique Gunaratne

Viber: 0094779571918

INTERNATIONAL WHITE CANE DAY 2017

The School for the Blind, Ratmalana organized a function to celebrate the International White cane Day for the students. It was a colourful event with cultural events by the vision impaired students. The students conducted the programme and made speeches on the significant of the white cane. Students received gifts for winning competitions organized with relevant to the significance of the white cane day. The Chief guest at and the Guest Speaker of this event was Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 School band with the banner.

2 Lighting of the oil lamp.

3 Manique making a speech.

4 Flowers by the students.

5 Students welcoming the chief guest.

 

Manique Gunaratne

Blog: http://efcnetworkondisability.employers.lk/

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION AT WORK PLACE

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre conducts “Employer Sensitisation” programmes for companies. Ms. Manique Gunaratne trained the staff members of DIMO (Pvt) Ltd. On “Disability etiquettes” to promote diversity and inclusion of the company.

 

Picture description for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique presenting.

2 Manique with the participants.

Manique Gunaratne

FaceBook – Manique Gunaratne

A GROUP OF VISION IMPAIRED PERSONS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES A COURSE OF STUDY IN “SURFING THE INTERNET”

The EFC Employers’ Network on Disability which was set up in 1999 with the support of the ILO, seeks to champion productive employment for those with disabilities while empowering them to retain employment at the same time. Offering a broad spectrum of facilities including job preparation, job placements, ICT training, life skills including English language skills to those with disabilities, the Network is also armed with a fully equipped digital library and a resource centre. These facilities are open to undergraduates, post graduate students and even job seekers. The ICT Training Centre which is now upgraded into a fully-fledged centre is the only facility in the country which renders ICT know-how to persons with diverse disabilities. The facility also made history as the first ever CISCO-accredited academy for persons with diverse disabilities in the country.

A group of 7 vision impaired persons successfully completed a course of study in “Surfing the Internet” in September 2017. All trainings at the Specialised Training Centre in Rajagiriya are conducted by Ms. Manique Gunaratne who is qualified nationally and internationally.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Training session in progress.

2 Group photograph.

3 Prathepan (trainee)

 

Manique Gunaratne

Skype – manique.g