In a country chronically plagued by high unemployment (somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 adults are unemployed in the 18-64 age bracket), the employment of disabled people is often overlooked as they are excluded from the normal economy and society either by their disability or the prejudices the disabled face.
One of the main issues highlighted causing this trend both locally and internationally is a severe lack of skills investment into disabled people when they are young/young adults. As a result many of them are unemployable, even if their disability is only physical.
Government has a set document that underwrites the aims it has to uplift the physically and mentally handicapped in a 9 tier phase: The Disability Analysis of the National Development Plan 2030:
• Removing Barriers to Access and Participation
• Protecting the Rights of Persons at risk of Compounded Marginalisation
• Supporting Sustainable Integrated Community Life
• Promoting and Supporting the Empowerment of Children, Women, Youth and Persons with disabilities
• Reducing Economic Vulnerability and Releasing Human Capital
• Strengthening the Representative Voice of Persons with Disabilities
• Building a Disability Equitable State Machinery
• Promoting International Co-operation
• Monitoring and Evaluation
However, Government cannot and never will solve the plight of the disabled by itself. It is up to individuals, business and society along with government to come up with solutions for disabled employment.
What is needed even more is a change in mind-set and to have the established prejudices changed through facts and experiences.
At Orion Organisation NPC we are realistic; none of our residents are ever going to be engineers or astronauts, however they can and do contribute greatly to society whilst also uplifting their social and economic conditions to the benefit of all when given a chance, they just need to be given opportunities.
At Orion (based in Atlantis, Western Cape), we offer numerous courses to up-skill both our physically and mentally disabled residents: Hygiene and Cleaning level 1 by Edge Training / – GETC Business Practice NQF Level 1 by Telebest are some of the programmes we currently teach.
These courses develop some basic skills and a number of our residents are now employed in big retail stores as either retail till assistants or corporate and domestic cleaning services. Our residents have a long and successful history with some of the biggest brands in the country; namely Woolworths and Pick n Pay, to mention just two.
Additionally we have our own Work Centre for our residents where they do numerous jobs for companies in the Western Cape; Repurposing retail shop hangers (millions a year – more than 260 million since the first hangers were delivered to Orion), packing of products for a variety of motor industry and FMCG clients, to mention a few.
There are also some unknown pro’s to employing disabled people; they are incredibly loyal! These people know that so few would consider employing them, so when they do get a job they are more dedicated to making a success than most. In addition to this another pro would be the boosting of a company’s BEE scoring.
The disabled are no different to us, they wish to live a happy and fulfilling life, unlike us they don’t just have bad luck or negative circumstance affecting their lives, but also a physical or mental handicap that makes their hurdles even harder to overcome.
As both a business and civil society we should be doing all we can to upskill and empower the disabled by offering them not only skills development training, but employment as well.
Hannl Cronje +27 21 572 8490 or [email protected]
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