Eight in ten people with disabilities are unemployed. The Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) is intent on making a difference.
According to the Census 2011 report (the most up-to-date information available), persons with disabilities constitute 7,5 percent of South Africa’s population. Of this figure, an estimated eight in ten persons with disabilities are unemployed. While unemployment remains one of the country’s biggest challenges in general, the statistics indicate that unemployment disproportionately affects the majority of persons with disabilities.
During its 2016 national presentation, the Department of Labour highlighted that South African businesses are nowhere close to fulfilling the very achievable target established by government of two percent representation of persons with disabilities in an organisation.
South Africa’s National Skills Development Strategy makes particular provision for employers to take persons with disabilities into the workplace and to cater for their needs, while still meeting the objectives of the business.
The skills development of persons with disabilities has been an important focus for HWSETA since its inception in 2002. In 2012, it increased its efforts to encourage South African employers to open up their places of work as areas of training for persons with disabilities.
Through the introduction of its work experience for people with disabilities discretionary grant project, HWSETA ensured that learnerships for persons with disabilities were made more accessible to employers in the health and social development sectors.
During the 2014/5 financial year, the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) applied for discretionary grant funding in order to host 10 learners with disabilities at QASA offices across the country. The project was a resounding success. Shortly after finishing the learnerships, seven of those went on to become permanently employed by various organisations, including QASA.
The success of this project prompted HWSETA once again to provide discretionary grant funding during the 2016/7 financial year. QASA submitted an expression of interest and was granted funding for a second group of 10 learners.
While some of these learners are hosted by QASA, the project successfully upped the ante by securing places of employment for the learners with disabilities at various host organisations. QASA is responsible for managing the whole project, which includes the placement of learners at host organisations. Andisiwe Pakade was successfully placed with the Associated Energy Services in KwaZulu-Natal. Benjamin Mbatha and Sifiso Dladla are being hosted by Shave Paint & Décor in Westville and Pinetown respectively, while Degratia Moraila is hosted by Pick n Pay in Soweto.
Brent Petersen, Akona Hashibi, Colland Landman, Nicholas van Kraayenburg, Babalo Pholose and Precious Dube are hosted by various QASA offices around the country. Luyanda Lokwe, projects manager in the skills development planning division at HWSETA, says: “The aim of the programme is to provide these learners with workplace experience and, in so doing, enhance their employability.”
Successful applicants are assigned a mentor for the duration of their learnership and are placed in various departments within a company accordingly. Divisions in which learners are placed include human resources, reception, administration, store inventory and other support services.
“To be considered for the learnership, prospective applicants don’t need any formal education, but enthusiasm and the willingness to learn are key,” adds Lokwe.
The successful collaboration between the HWSETA and QASA on both projects, as well as the participating host employers, serves as an inspiring example of what can be achieved when like-minded organisations come together in a forward-thinking initiative.
For more information, contact HWSETA either by calling the toll-free number 0800 864 478, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.hwseta.org.za.