The value of disability learnerships in business



A disability-focused learnership can boost a company?s B-BBEE scorecard and offer
the opportunity to improve the lives of people less fortunate. This is adds value to the
organisation and society as a whole.



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 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 to 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 payr

The Learnership programme was developed in South Africa as a modern way to advance apprenticeships to meet the modern demands of the workplace. Learnerships also manage to formalise the learning and workplace experience - which is usually sadly lacking in internships offered by companies.

Another significant benefit of Learnerships over internships is that Learnerships come with a formal pay structure where learners will be paid a monthly stipend, or payment, for the time they are on the Learnership. Also, internships do not have a learning component, while Learnerships are all linked directly to a formal qualification.

oll is undertaken for an employee with a disability.
For more information visit Transcend Corporate Advisors


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