A pilot study : participation opportunities for persons with disabilities in training interventions in a public service department
Van Niekerk, Zelna
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Persons with disabilities face several barriers in their everyday lives and are often unable to participate fully in society or to reach their full potential. They often have little or no exposure to formal schooling or education, which means that they can only be employed at entry-level positions in organisations. When employed, they are often not nominated to attend any training interventions because of the logistical arrangements that need to be made to accommodate them. The central problem investigated in this research study was whether persons with disabilities were equally exposed to training interventions and opportunities in the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) as persons without disabilities. In other words, were they equally advanced in terms of skills development as envisaged by the JobAccess Strategy (the Strategic framework on the recruitment, employment and retention of persons with disabilities in the public service) and does this empowerment help redress past discriminatory practices? If not, what can the dti and CIPRO do to change this situation (2008:2) The JobAccess Strategy was approved by the South African Cabinet in November 2008. This strategy wanted to create a public service that can not only accommodate persons with disabilities as employees, but also advance them in terms of skills development. This study therefore aimed to determine whether persons with disabilities were equally exposed to training interventions in the dti and CIPRO as persons without disabilities; and whether persons with disabilities were equally advanced in terms of skills development as envisaged by the JobAccess Strategic Framework. Furthermore, the researcher aimed to determine to what extent the dti and CIPRO develop employed persons with disabilities in order to address their disadvantaged position by virtue of the discrimination they suffered in the past and, finally, the researcher made some recommendations to the management of the dti and CIPRO regarding the empowerment of persons with disabilities through training and development opportunities. In an effort to study this topic and accomplish the aims of the research project, a comprehensive literature review of recent and relevant literature sources available on the researched topic was conducted. The literature review included reference sources and the relevant legislation, as well as relevant information identified by means of electronic search engines. Special attention was given to defining important terms, such as disability, education, training and development, as well as to understanding the concept of disability by looking at different types and causes of disability. The researcher then gathered specific data on the dti and CIPRO from the following source documents: annual reports, work place skills plans, and annual training reports; and from individual interviews with the identified participants. Qualitative data were collected through individual interviews with staff members with disabilities and observations recorded by the researcher during the interviews. This was done in an attempt to gather first-hand data in a confidential, safe environment where interviewees could be honest and at ease. Broadly considered, the findings of the study were that the participants with disabilities employed in the two entities studied, were mainly exposed to repetitive, low-level training that would lead to little or no career advancement. A comparison of the percentage of trained employees with disabilities with their trained colleagues without disabilities also showed an unequal distribution. Based on the research findings, various recommendations were made with a view to improve the training opportunities of employees with disabilities in the dti and CIPRO. These recommendations included changes to the relevant policies and practices to ensure equal employment practices and developmental opportunities for all employees.
- Education