Young adults in South Africa with intellectual disabilities and learning impairments are the most marginalised group of persons living with a disability. Although they are extremely capable of adding value to the open-labour market, this group is seldom afforded opportunities to gain experience in the workplace.
Learn 2 Earn, a programme developed by the organisation Khulisani, has teamed up with BON Hotel Empangeni to provide invaluable work experience at their 3-star Kwazulu Natal hotel. The hotel has become a host site for the Skills Development, Employment Equity, Enterprise Development and Supplier Development arena. The programme has provided training for over 86 persons with disability per year and has placed 58 of their trained learners into various positions with partner businesses.
BON Hotel Empangeni employs intellectually disabled South 32 ex-learners between the ages of 18 and 29 in various positions at the hotel, as general workers with responsibilities such as supporting the kitchen team with preparation, kitchen cleaning as well as performing general housekeeping and banqueting duties. “This opportunity provides significant work experience in the hospitality industry and ultimately results in a sense of achievement and worth for the worker,” says Pretty Ndlovu, South 32 Project coordinator at Khulisani. “Not only do they learn valuable hard skills, but these opportunities also teach them about work ethics, how to work as a team and how the working world operates.”
Tania de Klerk, Customer Relations Executive at BON Hotel Empangeni says that the experience gained is two-fold. “Although we are thrilled to be able to provide a safe and suitable working environment for the South 32 graduates, we have also been enlightened by the project. People living with disabilities have so much to offer society and I know that my team has benefited by learning crucial life-skills through the project.”
The Learn 2 Earn contracts are run on an annual basis, with the possibility of renewal or permanent placement at the hotel.