Disability Connect and the CSIR Inspire Students for Workplace Readiness!

The latest in the series of Disability Connect’s Workplace Readiness events took place at Kempton Panorama, where 30 senior students were able to learn more about the working world. On Thursday 30 September 2021, corporate partner Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) provided students with information about opportunities within their company, giving them motivation about the possibilities available to persons with disabilities.

Kempton Panorama’s mission is aimed at the optimal development of each learner. The school prides itself in maintaining high academic standards for their learners and motivating them to pursue opportunities in industries that are cognizant of their disabilities.

Chief Education Therapist at Kempton Panorama, Fransli Buckle, stated, “Our students face many challenges when they enter the working world. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that their disabilities are hidden. Because it’s a hidden disability, it’s not obvious and employers don’t consider it a disability. It is important that we advocate for our students and assist them in overcoming their disabilities with events such as these.”

The initial presentation was given by Paddy Slattery, Director Mandeville, Para Swimming. The video clip was informative and enlightening.

“As part of the annual Disability Summit, now in its 10th year, this Workplace Readiness Road Show provides an opportunity to inspire, inform, motivate and educate. It also enables South African corporates to network, share challenges and opportunities, discuss industry best practices and define a fully inclusive path forward for disability in the workplace,” says Paddy Slattery, founder of the Mandeville Disability Swimming Centre of Excellence who also started the Disability Summit, organised by Creative Space Media.

The learners were given the opportunity to develop their own war cry with the master of ceremonies leading the way. The learners displayed great initiative in making a war cry that showed the spirit of the group. “Semmi”, a motivational speaker, gave the learners a short and powerful word of encouragement from eDeaf.

A presentation by Progression Recruitment was very helpful in aiding the learners in the do’s and don’ts of preparing for a “Job Interview” and addressing the fundamentals required to take notes. The online presentation was conducted by Jolene Smith from the Progression Employment Agency. They have been in the industry for almost twenty years. The niche in which they have found a market for their line of business and a need in the market is the need for Peoples with Disabilities (PWD). Jolene explained how they had identified a number of specialised hubs catering for job creation. Addressing the various needs in the market place and one of the key industries is the computer industry, where one can get involved in the different areas within the IT realm. Learnerships were highlighted as an avenue to get a foot in the door of an organisation:

“Most companies have policies and quotas to fill, but so often true transformation happens one candidate at a time,” says Beth Cook, CEO of Progression. “Learnerships offer a great opportunity for integrating people living with disabilities into the workplace – as the candidate learns and grows, the company gets to see just what they can bring to the table.

“Since 2002, we have been passionately working to promote economic and social equality for the most marginalised and vulnerable in society, through our innovative and inclusive solutions.”

Tebogo Mokgatle, Capability Development Practitioner at CSIR, provided information on the opportunities hosted at the renowned company, and how they have prioritised disability inclusion into their company ethos. She informed students that CSIR promotes the eligibility of all students and encouraged them to submit their applications for the next cycle of internships and bursaries. Tebogo concluded with the following:

Disability is not a limitation. Please continue to work hard; the sky is the limit. You can do anything you put your mind to. CSIR welcomes you all and looks forward to forming strong and fruitful relationships with the next generation.

The learners were encouraged to display their talents! Five volunteers and an occupational therapist showed off their various talents – these budding singers, poets and actress entertained an appreciative audience.

I was pleasantly impressed by the work that is been done for Peoples with Disabilities (PWD) working as an advocate for PWD’s. I found the learners interacted well with master of ceremonies and there was a great rapport. I want to thank Samantha das Costa from Creative Space Media for the invitation to join the presentation and opening my perspective to Disability Connect and what is been achieved in the schools today to aide learners in creating a future for themselves.

Article written by Jonathan Langerman founder of I AM ABLE – advocacy for people with disabilities.

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