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SA ‘falling behind’ in integrating people with disabilities into workforce

SA ‘falling behind’ in integrating people with disabilities into workforce

SOUTH Africa is falling behind in the integration of disabled people into the workplace, as its private and public institutions have failed to ensure — as the Employment Equity Act demands — that at least 2% of their workforce is disabled.

To address this, the Disability Workshop Development Enterprise (DWDE), a nongovernmental organisation based in the Western Cape, launched its 2% Employment Campaign in Sandton on Tuesday. It aims to place 1,200 people with disabilities into entry-level employment positions — some for the first time in their lives.

Undere Deglon, CEO of the DWDE, said the campaign was a partnership with the Jobs Fund, administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Disability.

“A cornerstone of the campaign is signing up member companies to join in the uptake of the 1,200 candidates who have completed the DWDE work-readiness programme,” she said.

Ms Deglon said some of the problems encountered by disabled people who tried to get jobs were human resources staff’s lack of knowledge of legislation, along with perceptions that it was expensive to employ disabled people and that bringing them into a work environment exposed them to danger.

“We understand business concerns about the risks of employing first-time job seekers,” she said. “Based on years of experience and lessons from other countries, we have developed a model to source, develop and place unemployed persons with disabilities into entry-level positions.”

However, there were questions from those attending the launch about the effectiveness of the campaign. One disabled man, who asked not to be named, said there were “a whole lot of launches but it never changes the face of the problem”.

He said at the core of the problem was the lack of an integrated plan by all stakeholders to allow disabled people to participate fully in society.

“It’s all well and good to have this launch and campaign, but how will disabled people navigate from where they live to where they need to work when the buses (do not accommodate) wheelchairs? How will they navigate the sidewalks when there are no slopes and ramps to allow them on or off? There aren’t many buildings — government ones included — that cater for people with disabilities,” he said.

Shuaib Chalklen, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, said society had to become more aware of the way it excluded people with disabilities.

“The overall aim of the DWDE campaign is to ensure real jobs for persons with disabilities,” he said. “This is a huge challenge and a good reason for us all to collectively support the DWDE and to use the opportunity that the campaign presents.”

Mr Chalklen added: “Employment of people with disabilities is a key indicator of the successful integration of people with disabilities in society.”

So, what’s new? the government and big businesses are not doing enough to get the disabled back into the workplace in large numbers………………….Well, Not all is dull and gloomy as Netcare shows us with the contribution they making. Its big companies like this who take the initiative, let’s pray that other’s follow soon. Well done Netcare

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