Engen-backed skills programme for people with disabilities a huge success
The inclusion of people with disabilities is a key focus area of Engen’s social investment, with all supported projects seeking to create sustainable value for all parties concerned.
Amongst various success stories, Engen’s support of the Breede Valley Association of and for Persons with Disabilities (BVAPD) to drive a new skills-based project called WeMove is bearing fruit.
BVAPD is a Western Cape-based non-profit organisation that renders therapeutic, social and community development services to persons with disabilities in the areas of Worcester, Rawsonville, De Doorns, Touws River and surrounds.
Buoyed by a three-year R846 680 donation, WeMove’s first intake of 20 beneficiaries commenced in September 2022, of which 13 candidates have been successfully placed in off-site jobs.
Anelda Rabie, a social worker at BVAPD explains: “In September last year we identified 20 candidates who underwent training and attended various theory, creative and life skills training workshops and we carefully evaluated each candidate to ascertain their talents, skills, interests and what they were capable of.
“Our goal was to place 10 of the best beneficiaries in off-site jobs, while the remaining beneficiaries would continue to fulfil on-site positions and put their new skills to work”.
Adds BVAPD’s Head of Office, Michelle Vos: “We are very excited to report that the pilot has been such a success that we have managed to secure off-site positions for 13 of our beneficiaries at various organisations including a major grocery chain, local panel beaters, a creche and a bike shop.
“We are like a bunch of proud mother hens,” add the duo. “We can see the training is working and the feedback from all employees has been incredibly positive.
“This in turn has boosted the confidence of the beneficiaries who have seen for themselves that they are more than capable of working in the open marketplace.”
Vos further explains that all partner organisations who employ beneficiaries are enrolled in a desensitisation programme to ensure proper preparedness in the workplace.
“There is always a contact person on premises who has been specially trained and can fully support beneficiaries should any problems arise, and we also do monthly check-ins with employees and have daily contact with our beneficiaries,” adds Vos.
With a long waiting list of both beneficiaries and companies wanting to get involved, Rabie has confirmed that the next group of 20 beneficiaries will commence training in September this year and once complete will have the chance to work off-site.
“In supporting Breede Valley APD we hope to create an equitable society where persons with disabilities can share access to every sphere of educational, work and social life so that together we can forge a future that is inclusive of all people,” comments Dr James Nyawera, Engen’s Stakeholder Engagement and Transformation Manager.
“As a caring and inclusive company with ‘heart’, this aligns with Engen’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which endeavour to ensure a better and more sustainable future for all.
“For Engen, disability inclusion is one of the company’s key social investment focus areas, giving us an opportunity to contribute towards inclusive rights in South Africa,” he adds.
As a company, Engen champions nine of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 4 – Quality Education, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, which aims to drive progress, create decent jobs for all and improve living standards.
“We are grateful to Engen for assisting us in empowering persons with disabilities to improve their socio-economic future,” comments Vos.
“Access to skills development and employment for persons with disabilities remains extremely limited and deprives them of taking their rightful place in the socio-economic life of South Africa.”