Champions of Change: EduPower's Learnerships Nurtures Corporate Inclusivity For People With Disabilities

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National Disability Rights Awareness Month, which runs from 3rd November to 3rd December, should be recognised and celebrated by all South African businesses says Rajan Naidoo, Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy. It’s the perfect opportunity for companies to showcase their commitment to inclusivity and diversity, demonstrating how they provide equal opportunities for all their employees, including those with disabilities.

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“True workplace inclusion is about embracing all our differences so that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, to learn, to be compensated fairly and to advance,” says Naidoo. "Having an inclusive workforce doesn't just mean hiring People with Disabilities; it means creating an environment that supports everyone’s growth and success equally.”

Orchestrating Opportunities

With over 30 years of experience in both education and business, Naidoo has gained valuable insights into the challenges that People with Disabilities commonly encounter in both educational settings and the workplace. This has fueled EduPower’s mission and commitment to addressing these disparities and empowering learners one step at a time.

EduPower is a leader and enabler of Skills Development and we’ve chosen to focus on learnerships for People with Disabilities to ensure these individuals are properly equipped with the skills they need to build sustainable careers so they can actively participate in the economy.

In pursuit of this objective, EduPower has established learnerships which are structured training programmes that offer individuals with disabilities the chance to gain fresh skills, knowledge, and nationally recognised qualifications. EduPower's Academy, equipped with specialised facilities, ensures that both classrooms and the work experience contact centre are tailored to meet the unique requirements of every learner.

Skills Development Strategies

Naidoo says that the majority of the Academy’s learnership programmes are funded by companies that implement disability-specific learnerships as part of their Skills Development strategies. These learnerships and the graduates they produce not only contribute to a more inclusive workforce but also benefit the business by introducing skilled employees with fresh thinking.

When companies embrace learnerships for People with Disabilities, they are not just complying with regulations or adding points to their B-BBEE Scorecards; they tap into a rich and diverse pool of talent made up of individuals who are courageous and resilient. The end result is not only an inclusive workforce but a more innovative one too.

Showcasing commitment to inclusivity through learnerships for People with Disabilities can also yield other widespread benefits for a company, including increased employee morale, a positive workplace culture and strengthened relationships with clients and customers who value socially responsible business practices.

The Way Forward

During National Disability Rights Awareness Month and beyond, Naidoo urges South African companies to actively work towards creating workplaces that embrace diversity, empower individuals with disabilities and inspire a more inclusive future for all, stating:

An inclusive workforce is not a one-time initiative; it's an ongoing commitment to diversity and equal opportunities and learnerships for People with Disabilities are a practical step towards achieving this goal.

He believes that South African companies that embrace these learnerships set a powerful example for others to follow: “By creating an environment where everyone can contribute their best, regardless of their abilities, companies are showing they are not afraid to take a crucial step towards a more inclusive and vibrant society.”

Ultimately, Naidoo hopes that if more and more companies start recognising and celebrating National Disability Rights Awareness Month and start having conversations about the issues faced by People with Disabilities, we can foster a more inclusive and socially responsible business environment and a more equitable society as a whole.

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Learnerships were developed by the South African government in recognition of a general low level of skills, and formal qualifications, in the workplace.  The Learnership has many benefits both to the companies who employ the learners, and the learners themselves. We have outlined some of the key benefits of Learnerships for you.

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