Implementing learnerships for people with Disabilities

Posted by Transcend
Thursday, 30 May 2013  |  Comments

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The prevalence of disability in a society is influenced by both political and economic factors. It is estimated that 10 – 26% of the worldwide population is regarded as living with a disability. In South Africa there are no reliable statistics regarding the incidence of disability but it is estimated that 10% of the population are regarded as living with a disability

Personal beliefs about disability will determine the way we approach and manage disability in the workplace. Just like individuals have a responsibility to develop an awareness of their personal belief systems that impact on the way in which they interact with persons with a disability, so do organisations have a responsibility to create a diverse and non-discriminatory environment. In order to manage responses to people with disabilities and to minimize discriminatory practices it is imperative that we are aware of the guiding principles that are provided in legislation. Various legislation, codes and guidelines support, encourage and monitor the inclusion of People with Disabilities in the workplace.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and Employment Equity legislation were put in place to drive meaningful transformation in a changing South African business environment. Furthermore, companies should use Disability Equity quotas to promote, manage and enhance the role that people with disabilities play within their organisations and not exploit gender to close any gaps in their overall equity numbers.

A disability-focused learnership can boost a company’s B-BBEE scorecard by more than 12 points. This comes through the fact that learnerships count 6 points for 5% of total permanent employees on a learnership, then the learnship process requires a skills spend which contributes both the the general skills spend target (6 points for a spend of 3% of payroll on training of black employees), as well as the specific target for skills spend on persons wiht disabilities of 0.3% of payroll for 3 points. The learners would also then support the target under Employment Equity of 3% of employees as persons with disabilites for 2 points. The cumulative effect of the multiple impacts in different aspects of the BBBEE scorecard could well result in more than 12 points.

Companies are hence potentially losing out on claiming key points on their B-BBEE scorecard, and the opportunity to improve the lives of people less fortunate, by ignoring learnership opportunities for people with disabilities.

The costs of these programs are also softend as government wants to share the responsibility of providing an opportunity for persons with disabilities. During 2011 the learnership tax incentive was extended for a further five years to October 2016. In addition to tax rebates (up to R100 000 per learner with disability), there are many other benefits to implementing a learnership within your organisation such as:

       Cash Grants

       Contributes towards a company's BEE scorecard

       Provides skilled and experienced workers

       Improves productivity and quality

       Identifies skills gaps and training opportunities

Transcend Corporate Advisors assists companies gain maximum benefit from initiatives such as placing people with disabilities on learnerships in organisations.

A hypothetical example would be, in a 10-person manufacturing business with an annual payroll of R10 million, the company can score 12.6% on the BBBEE scorecard by simply placing one black female on a disability-focused learnership. An immediate return of 6% points is claimed for achieving the learnership target of 5% of total permanent employees, which once adjusted for gender escalates to a 6% weighted point impact on the scorecard.

Because the learnership in this case is applied to a person with a disability, that will also count towards the target for disability in the employment equity portion of the scorecard, which is 2% of total permanent employees. Complying with this target adds 2% weighted points. Taking this a step further, an additional 3% point impact can be gained on the skills development side if training valued at 0.3% of payroll is undertaken for an employee with a disability.

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