Learnerships for people living with disabilities offer valuable opportunities to both candidates and clients

14 May 2012 - There are growing opportunities for people living with disabilities to make a positive difference in the workplace. Often these opportunities start with learnership programmes. As an equity-owned company, aimed at successfully integrating more people with disabilities into the workplace Progression works closely with companies to ensure that both its clients and learners reap the rewards of its learnership programmes.

“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.”

She goes on to say that living with a disability, seldom limits the capabilities of the learner. “Clients are often bowled over by the positive difference and contribution this type of candidate can make to their organisation,” adds Cook, “Their willingness to become a team player, as well as their positive attitude, often has a ripple effect on the entire organisation.”

Progression helps people living with disabilities to start and grow their careers in a meaningful way. As part of its skills development, Progression offers learnerships to young people seeking experience in a real working situation. It also consults with companies to help employ and manage these individuals within their organisations. For over 10 years, it has helped put in place Disability Equity solutions and align these to best practices. Their experience and strategic approach has been successful – increasing the diversity and bottom line for top South African companies.

Success stories

Two Progression learners are currently completing a Business Administration course through two well-known companies.

Thamsanqa Maliza works at Webber Wentzel. Thami works on the IT Service desk as a customer consultant. “I’ve learned how to work efficiently under pressure,” he says, “and to take into account what’s going on around me as I’m on the front line.”

Adele Myburg, his mentor at Webber Wentzel, reports that his sense of humour and willingness to learn has impressed her. “Thami is always willing to go the extra mile,” she says. “Often he can be found taking equipment to users even though it’s not his duty to do so and on his lunch hour too.”

Nikiwe Sefefe works at Chartis Insurance. She believes her training will provide a better future for her. “At the end of this learnership, I will have a qualification and the experience to go with it,” she says. “I’ve also learned the value of tolerance. In both work and your personal life, you must be patient with yourself and others.”

Mothibidi Lecage, her mentor at Chartis Insurance, believes she is an inspiration to others in the company. “All tasks allocated to her are dealt with in the quickest of time and her organisational skills are valuable in keeping up with the deadlines we face,” he says. “Nikiwe brings perseverance, consistency and creativity to our team.”

Commitment to transformation and diversity

“We’ve always been committed to making diversity work for both our candidates and clients,” explains Cook. “We are uniquely positioned to guide these candidates in their careers and match their skills to suitable positions with our clients. Both relationships are equally important – and require nurturing and attention.”

“For us, learnerships are a great starting place to build relationships between the learner and the company,” says Cook. “Often these learners prove to be an asset to the company and experience a career first hand that suits them. We’re proud that we’ve been part of two more success stories,” she concluded.

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