CHIETA, the Chemical Industrial Education & Training Authority, believes there is a need for an increased focus on skills development for people with disabilities in all sectors. This, as South Africa marks the start of National Disability Rights Awareness Month.
CHIETA has undertaken a range of initiatives and partnerships to deliver skills and opportunities for people with disabilities in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.
Yershen Pillay, CHIETA CEO, says conservative estimates are that about 3 million people in South Africa are living with disabilities, equating to about 18% of the population. He says, “Sadly, this significant group of capable citizens often experiences discrimination and being side-lined as prospective employees. Disability Awareness Month gives us the chance to remove barriers and improve the quality of life of people with disabilities, through concrete action.”
CHIETA collaborates with Aspen Pharmacare
CHIETA’s far-reaching initiatives include an established partnership with Aspen Pharmacare, which is driving occupationally directed learning focused on persons with disabilities, and creating opportunities for qualifications, coaching, and work experience.
CHIETA has so far invested R 2 700 000 in funding as part of the partnership with Aspen. The formal learnerships provide students living with a disability, the opportunity to learn and gain experience in pharmaceutical sales, production and operations management, HR, and management of active pharmaceutical ingredients, in five metropolitan areas.
Most recently on the 1st of May 2021, and through support from CHIETA, Aspen recruited 50 people living with a disability to participate in key learnerships throughout the group. Stephen Saad, CEO of Aspen South Africa, says their robust relationship with CHIETA enables Aspen to impact the skills landscape within sectors in which it operates. “We’re proud that our work with CHIETA is improving skills development and advancing persons with disabilities.”
Adult Education in WC
In the Western Cape earlier this year, CHIETA launched an Adult Education and Training (AET) programme at an investment of R1.3 million, in line with the Seta’s skills development mandate which encompasses FMCG.
The AET programme was held between May and July this year, at four sites in Paarl, Fish Hoek, Goodwood, and Atlantis, enabling 100 disabled learners to be trained by Optimi Workplace in basic oral languages, retail, and other life skills. Pillay says, “Various well-known manufacturing and retail organisations were also involved in the programme, providing learners with work obligations and compensating them for services rendered.”
Pillay concludes, “CHIETA is committed to increasing skills development programmes for people with disabilities, who often face almost impossible challenges in their daily lives. We believe that, as a country, it’s imperative to recognise the contribution that people with disabilities can make to society and the economy, and that we redouble our efforts to incorporate them into our workplaces and social structures. As CHIETA, we are striving to build the skills and confidence in themselves of people with disabilities through our different programmes and partnerships.”