On August 21-22, AGENDA, ADF, ASEAN Youth Organization (AYO) and ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) jointly organized a pre-meeting and a focus group discussion (FGD) gathering youth with and without disabilities from 10 ASEAN member states. In the beginning of the pre-meeting on August 21, AGENDA Disability Rights Advisor, Tolhas Damanik, gave an introductory presentation to the Enabling Masterplan. Then, participants were divided into two group discussions and identified several challenges and opportunities to advance inclusiveness in the two sectors through the use of digital technology. Participants highlighted that despite the rapid development of digital technology could increase the effectiveness of work and explore new markets, youth especially those with disabilities and/or living in rural areas still encounter the inaccessibility of digital technology and internet connections, lack of skill enhancements programs, and financial exclusion.
On August 22, the youth participants gathered again in an FGD to formulate recommendations based on the identified challenges and opportunities. IFES Youth Specialist, Ashley Law gave an introductory presentation on youth and employment, then continued by a presentation from the founder of (these)abilities, Ken Chua, who shared a few examples on how digital technology could help persons with disabilities getting jobs through online platforms such as LinkedIn and on how companies could better provide employment opportunities for persons with disabilities by making their recruitment process more inclusive. Participants were divided into two group discussions and formulated recommendations that include improving digital technology accessibility, providing discounts for high-speed internet and online courses or trainings, and providing financial assistance for youth in need. All recommendations will be offered to relevant ASEAN officials during the Public Dialogue on Advancing Employment and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Youth Using Digital Technology in the COVID19 Pandemic Era that will be held on Monday, August 30, 2021. A total of 30 and 31 youth participated in the pre-meeting and the FGD, respectively. Among them, there were 16 female participants in each event.