Rolling out in Upington, in the Northern Cape this month, a group of 20 trainee beneficiaries commenced a one-month carpentry training course covering table, chair and cupboard manufacturing as well as door and ceiling installation.
Working closely with Disabled People SA and various government departments, Engen and the DEET have worked together since 2019 on various initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities through the equalization of opportunities, poverty reduction, and promotion of social inclusion.
Casvin Neville Jonkers, a beneficiary on the carpeting learnership said he thoroughly enjoyed the course, which was very challenging due to his disability, but he is feeling very excited about all the new techniques of woodwork he has learnt.
As an amputee, I can’t properly work with my left hand, but this course gave me all the skills I need and will definitely open doors for me. We learnt how to make furniture, how to install doors, cupboards and ceilings.
"This is a dream come true. I feel I can express myself creatively through my hands and I hope to start a business in woodwork."
Sydney Coetzee says when he heard about the carpentry learnership rolling out in Upington, he made sure he was the first on the list.
I received my own took box which is the best gift I have ever received in my life. I want to thank Engen and DEET for bringing this very important training to Upington and for helping to develop people with disabilities. We all enjoyed the training so much that we asked for an extension.
Israel Malatsi said the training was very well organized, with excellent facilitators who went above and beyond.
"I am truly grateful to Engen for funding this project and to DEET for bringing this skills development learnership to persons living with disabilities in my area. The Northern Cape has been neglected over the years."
To date, the artisan training programme has afforded 65 persons with the opportunity to developskills and competencies required to enter the workplace or even start their own business, enabling them to live a dignified life and contribute to the economy in a meaningful way.
Engen’s Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, Dr James Nyawera says the project will provide skills and competencies which the beneficiaries will be able to use throughout their lives either as employees or as entrepreneurs.
The project is intended to improve the conditions and living standards of persons with disabilities, by providing participants with skills that they can use to earn a living.
The skills programme will run over a six-month period and will also include refresher training sessions.
It is open to South African citizens under the age of 35 and aims to provide occupational qualifications and practical skills for 35 plumbers, 30 wheelchair repair persons and 35 carpenters across the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.
Expressing his gratitude to Engen for their renewed support, CEO of the Disability Economic Empowerment Trust (DEET), Thabiso Phetuka says essential work skills and qualifications opens-up a whole host of new prospects for participants and guarantees sustainable livelihoods.
“Our partnership with Engen provides hope to job seekers with disabilities and those who aspire to start their own businesses, who previously have been unsuccessful in securing a position, as a result of not having the necessary skills or confidence,” says Phetuka.
Engen’s continued commitment to DEET fulfills South Africa’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed in 2007, as well as the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disability that was approved by Cabinet in 2015 as part of domesticating the convention.
The rationale behind our drive to support persons with disabilities is not only about upholding the Constitutional principles of non-discrimination on the basis of disability but also to put tangible measures in place to support developmental interventions, so that people living with disabilities can become inclusive, contributing members of society.
Disability inclusion is one of Engen’s key social investment focus areas, giving the company the opportunity to contribute towards inclusive disability rights in South Africa.
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.
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.
In 2021, Engen partnered with DEET to launch a driver disability training programme for people with disabilities assisting 100 new drivers in five provinces with all the necessary requirements and skills needed to pass their learner’s and driver’s license and enter the job market.