The development of skills of people with disabilities is a worthwhile goal, but what happens afterwards?

The Skills Development Act states that an employer should be spending about four per cent of its skills budget on persons with disabilities. The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act provides an employer with four bonus points if it meets a disability skills development target of 0,3 per cent.

NQF level prohibits access

There are many opportunities for persons with disabilities to enter leadership, primarily in major city centres. However, very often the entry criteria are at a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 4 level, which means that applicants need to have matric, often with English as a first language and mathematics.
Even if the NQF level is lower, the educational gap often experienced by persons with disabilities excludes them from these opportunities. There are thus fewer suitable candidates with a greater demand, which leads to another set of systemic challenges. A learner will be registered on two qualifications concurrently and benefiting from both stipends – which is an illegal practice.

No employment after learnerships

Employers also do not always provide employment for learners with disabilities after learnerships. Instead, they are more learnerships to continuously gain the benefits of the Skills Development Act. People with disabilities get caught in another systemic challenge where they become perpetual learners in the skills development system; doing leadership after learnership, which never results in their permanent employment.

Disability organisations and SETA to the rescue]

This is where disability organisations and the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Services SETA) need to play a more prominent role. There are huge opportunities for organisations to assist persons with disabilities on their skills path and benet from the SETA grants and Employee Tax Incentives.

Disability organisations could appeal to donors to fund the person with a disability in their skills development programmes as well as the companies that need to employ qualified persons with disabilities. Employers should be canvassing their respective SETAs to develop the supply of persons with disabilities in their respective industries as well.

These interventions should go beyond just making Disability Grants for the employers available, but the SETAs should be collaborating with the disability organisations to achieve such a common goal. In certain industries and SETAs, some exemplary work has been done and the goals achieved clearly demonstrate the impact.

However, there is much work still to be done to meet the legislative targets for persons with disabilities in skills development and to have an impact on the disability employment target of 7,5 per cent.

Rustim Ariefdien is a disability expert extraordinaire, who assists businesses to “let the Ability of disAbility enAble their protAbility” through BBBEE, skills development, employment equity and socio-economic development. He ensures that businesses are able to maximise their points on the BBBEE scorecard and become compliant with legislative requirements as stipulated in the Employment Equity and Skills Development Acts. His purpose is the economic empowerment of persons with disability in Africa. As a person with a disability himself, he has extensive experience in the development and empowerment of persons with disability.