Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said the creation of employment opportunities for people with disabilities is a crucial issue for her Department ahead of the two day Harkin Summit, an International Disability Employment Event.
The event which will take place in the International Convention Centre (ICC) from tomorrow, Tuesday 7 June to Wednesday 8 June, seeks to raise awareness and call for change worldwide for disability employment.
In partnership with The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement, the Department for Communities, as lead sponsor for the Harkin Summit, has collaborated with a range of local and international organisations to bring together senior leaders to highlight and address disability employment issues, showcase best practice and success, build relationships and challenge for change.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said:
"I am delighted that we have secured a Summit of this nature and importance for Belfast. The creation of disability employment is a crucial issue for me and my Department.
"Hosting this Summit, bringing together local and international leaders to build awareness, share best practice and challenge for change will ultimately help more people with disabilities and health conditions secure employment and meet their career aspirations.
"I have also ensured that a number of important Harkin Belfast legacy initiatives will flow from the conference to help maintain the momentum for change and to enhance the city of Belfast as an accessible, diverse and welcoming destination."
Under the Minister's direction the Harkin Belfast legacy initiatives include:
- 300 ring-fenced employment opportunities for young disabled people.
- 100 mentoring sessions to be delivered during the Summit, connecting individuals with disabilities and senior international leaders.
- An eight-week Entrepreneurship Course for young people with disabilities, in collaboration with the British Council.
- Dragons Den for disability led enterprises sponsored by Ulster Bank.
- JAM Card (Just A Minute) training for hundreds of Belfast Hospitality staff, developed and funded in partnership with Visit Belfast and NOW Group.
- Showcasing of artists with disabilities at the Summit venue and collaboration on design of Summit branding.
- Creation of a 'Social Narrative' Accessibility Video along with a 'Changing Places' facility for the Venue.
Paying tribute to the leadership of all of the Summit partners, Senator Tom Harkin said:
"The progress for increasing employment for persons with disabilities is not inevitable. It requires dedicated individuals, to keep pushing forward and continue their tireless efforts.
"The Department for Communities and our partners in the disability employment space in Belfast have been tremendous leaders, both in their production of the Harkin Summit and their efforts to dramatically increase employment opportunities, accessibility and inclusion."