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Call to corporates to change disability employment stats

20 Feb 2018

Beth Cook, CEO of Progression and disability equity solutions specialist, says this presents a conundrum for corporate South Africa when adhering to employment equity requirements.

WHILE most of last year’s matriculants are finalising their futures at institutions of higher learning or securing employment, only a handful of people with disabilities will be doing the same – because only around 5% of youth with disabilities matriculate every year.

Beth Cook, CEO of Progression and disability equity solutions specialist, says this presents a conundrum for corporate South Africa when adhering to employment equity requirements. ‘Simply put, there are not enough matriculants with disabilities to fill up the vacancies reserved for them,’ she says.

‘Only considering learners who have achieved a matric often results in the ‘recycling’ of these learners.

‘Not only does this prevent the learner from finding a permanent position, but it also excludes other learners with disabilities who do not have a matric, but can still add value to an organisation,’ says Cook.

Corporate call

Adding to the woes of South Africa’s youth is the poor quality of the country’s Grade 12 qualifications, when compared with other developing countries.

In 2015 the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa 139 out of 143 when looking at the overall quality of its education system.

‘In many rural and township schools, the educators are not qualified to teach pupils with disabilities or special needs.

‘It is apparent in the number of learners who drop out of the system before entering Grade 11 and Grade 12, that there are serious flaws in the current education system.

‘According to Equal Education, South Africa’s official 2017 matric pass rate of 75.1% is not a realistic number when considering other important circumstances, such as the large number of pupils who drop out before writing their matric exams.’

According to the Department of Basic Education’s latest Focus on Education report, Grade 10 is the most repeated grade in South Africa.

In 2015, 20.4% of learners registered for grade 10 were repeating it.

To better deal with these issues, Cook says employers need to facilitate the development of learners from economically disadvantaged groups through learnership initiatives that do not require a matric qualification as a prerequisite for granting access into the workplace.

‘With adequate training a learner from an economically disadvantaged background who has achieved an NQF Level 2, 3 or 4, would be better equipped to enter the labour market than a below-average grade 12 student.

‘This approach is also more likely to achieve the demographic targets stipulated by the B-BBEE Codes.

‘By sourcing from the pool of Grade 10 and 11 pupils, there would be more candidates to fill up posts and also take care of all those pupils who are lost in the system when dropping out,” advises Cook.

‘Importantly, corporates can align themselves with B-BBEE policy by employing competent persons with disabilities. ‘Consider employing people with disabilities, who do not have a matric, but have skills and enthusiasm, to be chosen for certain learnerships.

‘Doing so also talks directly to the spirit of B-BBEE and skills development in South Africa,’ concludes Cook.

Source: Zululand Observer

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