People with disabilities frequently struggle to gain access to employment and training, says Devan Moonsamy, CEO of the I Can Help Africa Foundation (ICHAF) Training Institute, a South African Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college. This situation is often caused by misperceptions relating to disabilities.
“Most disabilities don’t prevent a person from taking up employment, and there are ways to get around the obstacles associated with disabilities,” Moonsamy notes. He adds that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has established the Southern Africa Inclusive Education Strategy 2017-2021 (SAIES) to ensure that children with disabilities have access to the education system.
While this will ensure a future generation of informed, well-equipped children within the SADC, there are currently many adults with disabilities who are willing to learn and enter the workplace but do not have access.
“The challenges a person faces should never prevent them from creating value in the way they can. A growing number of companies offer learnerships to people with disabilities, which can be a highly effective means of ensuring their access to employment and financial security,” he explains.
There are accredited training providers who can upskill people with disabilities to ensure that they are workplace-ready. Moonsamy says: “A number of South African training providers, such as the ICHAF Training Institute, take a particular interest in people with disabilities and strive to empower them by matching them with prospective employers who are looking for candidates for learnerships.”
There are also dedicated employment agencies and non-profit organisations to assist companies in recruiting people with disabilities.
“Training and employing people with disabilities has many benefits, such as a healthy corporate culture and CSR portfolio, improved morale, reliable employees with a better retention rate, increased diversity, and an improved B-BBEE score,” he says.
He points out that a person with a disability, depending on their impairment, can often do the same type of work as their peers, including in fields of administration, consultation and many creative careers. People with disabilities are encouraged to upload their CVs to the ICHAF database, which can be accessed via the ICHAF website.
“The database is used to match individuals with prospective employers who are recruiting candidates from among people with disabilities for learnerships,” Moonsamy concludes.