Expert tips on employment for people with disabilities

Raven Benny, QASA COO.

In celebration of Mandela Day, the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) hosted a free-to-attend webinar with the theme Educating Towards Employment during which experts shared some advice on how people with disabilities could prepare and apply for work during and post lockdown. The webinar, held on Friday, 17 July, was an opportunity for the organisation to give back.

“QASA is usually on the receiving end of Mandela Day, but this year, we wanted to give back to our members,” Raven Benny, QASA COO, stated before the event. He was a speaker at the event and provided some insights into how the organisation can assist quadriplegics and paraplegics in building their skills and finding employment.

Other speakers included Ari Seirlis, former QASA CEO, who spoke about the opportunities the lockdown and global COVID-19 pandemic can offer; and Lesa Bradshaw, an expert on disability placement from Bradshaw LeRoux, who spoke about what people with disabilities can do to prepare for employment.

Ari Seirlis, former QASA CEO.

The 67-minute webinar included presentations from each speaker as well as a question-and-answer session in which some of the audience queries were addressed by the experts.

Bradshaw opened the webinar by pointing out that people with disabilities will be more appealing than ever to employers as they come with broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) points, which means tax rebates for businesses. However, in order to ensure employment, people with disabilities were encouraged to use this time to improve their skills.

Lesa Bradshaw, an expert on disability placement from Bradshaw LeRoux.

“In preparation for the economy shifting as we recover, people with disabilities need to get themselves upskilled and ready,” Bradshaw explains. “They need to be proficient in various technologies, for example, how to operate on Zoom or do an online interview. They need to take as many opportunities to get certification and experience as possible.” This could include learnerships or online course some of which are free.

In the past, a big obstacle to employment was the inflexibility of businesses to accommodate people with disabilities. With most employees working from home during lockdown, businesses are adjusting to the concept and will, most likely, be open to employing a person with a disability to work remotely or allow flexi hours.

People with disabilities are also well adjusted to work from home as Seirlis notes: “We are experts at working from home. We are the best candidate to work from home with no transport or concern about getting there on time. We are more productive at home than some people without disabilities. We are less vulnerable to illnesses and don’t have to work traditional hours. We can make ourselves available at any time.”

While there might be more employment opportunities, the presenters highlighted the importance of people with disabilities upskilling themselves and advocating their value in a business. Benny summed up the webinar very well by stating: “Most of the responsibility is on our shoulders as persons with a disability. We need to show the market what we are capable of and how we can provide value to businesses.”

The full webinar is available online and can be viewed here:

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