Engen-sponsored bursaries aimed at extending access to crucial work-training opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities have seen Work4You successfully place 90 percent of candidates, significantly boosting employment of these young adults in the formal labour market.
Although Engen has spent five years supporting Work4You, a Cape Town-based non-profit organisation (NGO) that prepares people with intellectual disabilities for permanent jobs, the bursaries are new and the results have been phenomenal.
Lynn D’Alton, Work4You operations manager and occupational therapist, says Engen’s commitment has allowed them to dramatically increase their impact on young adults with intellectual disabilities, who might never have afforded the training costs. Salt River beneficiary Shaakirah Harris, for example, now has a permanent job at Fashion and Hair Emporium in Woodstock.
“I’ve gone from just lying around at home to earning my own money, meeting new people, and building on my dream of one day becoming a hairdresser,” Harris says, urging others to follow her example. Work4You focuses its attention on people with intellectual disabilities aged 18 to 30, acting as a bridge between the completion of special-needs education and supported employment.
D’Alton notes that they boast high commercial employment rates due to their skills and personal development programme, which is delivered by a team of professionals. Prior to Engen’s introduction of bursaries to benefit youngsters from poor communities, the company supported Work4You with petrol allowances.
The change came in 2016 when Engen took the decision to deepen its involvement in order to reach a more diverse and representative group. Adhila Hamdulay, corporate social investment (CSI) manager at Engen, says this investment saw them allocate eight bursaries in that first year, with three of the recipients offered almost immediate employment.
In 2017, Engen upped that number to ten and have allocated funds for a further ten bursaries in 2018. Hamdulay notes: “We are fully committed to supporting people with disabilities in line with our CSI goals, but this is much more than just a box-ticking exercise for us. We know this is a key area of need and are humbled to play a part in seeing these young people gain relevant work experience and life skills, and then hopefully permanent jobs.”
Harris explains that she first attended Work4You assessment and training, then progressed to work exposure, job trials and finally supported employment. “This would never have happened without their support. I was so excited when the training came to an end and I could start working and earning my own income. The independence is amazing.”
To date, Work4You has trained 87 people and successfully placed trainees in 107 different positions. Some juggle several different jobs on different days of the week. “The support from Engen really enables the organisation to continue advancing the employment of youngsters with intellectual disabilities in the open labour market. We hope to use this to expand our impact across South Africa, and we are grateful to Engen for helping us get to this point,” concludes D’Alton.