The City’s Social Development and early Childhood Development Directorate has secured employment for 100 people with disabilities as part of its Vulnerable Groups Programme. The programme is being run across all eight Social Development district offices, including areas such as Atlantis, Mitchells Plain, Athlone, Belhar, Ocean View and Westlake.
Participants completed a workplace skills training programme before starting their three-month contracts which expire at the end of June 2016. They have been placed at local organisations, libraries, clinics, schools and police stations and perform administrative tasks like filing, managing switchboards, assisting with reception duties, monitoring Grade R learners at some schools, weaving cane and restoring cane furniture.‘Finding work in South Africa is hard. It is even harder for people with disabilities, despite employment targets that are meant to level the playing fields. Too many organisations simply do not have the time or inclination to train a person with a disability who could be an asset to their business in the long-run. There is also the prevailing stigma that often sees people with disabilities being marginalised.
‘The key to our workplace skills programme is to prepare the candidates for the workplace and improve their prospects of full-time employment. We have had some success in previous years with candidates who have found full-time employment and we’ll keep at it to ensure that everyone has access to opportunities, irrespective of whether they are able-bodied,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.
Another City initiative, the Livelihood Skills Project, got under way in December 2015. It sees 53 candidates undergoing entrepreneurship training to start their own community-based businesses. The five-day training programme is provided by the Disability Workshop Development Enterprise. The training focuses on bottom-line basics and business simulation methodology which simulates real market conditions and business scenarios in the training room. Practical training follows the theoretical training and each participant receives a ‘business in a box’ starter kit at the end of the five-day training programme.
Recently, the first group of 18 completed their training in wheelchair and bicycle repairs and maintenance. The next group of 18 trainees will be taught arts and crafts skills and the final group will be trained in shoe and bag repairs. The programme also offers ongoing mentorship to the participants after completion of the course.
‘I’m extremely proud of the work done thus far. The key here is that the skills being transferred are for goods and services that communities can benefit from. So it really is about shaping possibilities for the candidates and making it as easy as possible to get their businesses up and running. We will be keeping a close eye on this group through continued mentoring and ongoing support as they put their training into practice,’ added Councillor Little.
Market and craft days are being scheduled on a monthly basis by the Disability Workshop Development Enterprise for the candidates to exhibit and promote their products and services.