In celebration of National Disability Rights Awareness Month which runs in South Africa from the 3 November – 3 December, the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), has taken a significant step towards inclusivity by initiating a job shadowing programme for students with disabilities.
Dewald Ranft, Chairman of MIWA says fortunately the motoring industry is one sector where disability is not an obstacle and people living with a disability are able to thrive.
Ranft says one of the programmes MIWA runs is a job shadowing programme and over the last two months have opened up some of their workshops in the Eastern Cape to learners from Baysville School of Skills, a school catering to learners with special education needs. It imparts trade skills such as welding, woodworking, and hairdressing.
When a teacher reached out to MIWA for assistance in placing a learner in a workshop for a week, the response was overwhelmingly positive. “MIWA workshops in East London opened their doors to over 30 students over a two-week period,” he says.
Each workshop accommodated one admin and one workshop student. The first week of placement took place from 11th to 15th September. Ranft, says “Students were expected to treat the opportunity like a regular job, complete with interviews and CV presentations. At the end of their week, each student received a mini testimonial to add to their CV.”
The teachers provided information about any special needs of the children that needed to be considered during their week at the workshops. “The feedback has been extremely positive, with students showing keenness to learn and a very positive outlook. Some inspiring stories emerged, such as children waking up at 4 o’clock and traveling more than 70km/1 hour to make it to work on time,” he says.
The second week of placement took place on 16th – 20th October. Participating workshops included Robs Motors, Automed, Cliffies Auto, Stirling Auto, D&T Servicing, and Midas Bowls Rd.
Lewton from Automed shared his experience, “I enjoyed teaching them, and it’s made even better that they were so grateful to learn and so thankful. They said they learnt a lot even in that short time and will most probably carry on in our industry when they graduate later this year.”
“This initiative is not just about providing opportunities for these students; it’s about ensuring the longevity of our industry and addressing the skills shortage by igniting a love for our industry in our youth. Hopefully we will be able to partner with other schools in different regions as well and expand the programme so that any learner, regardless of his disability but who has a passion and love for the sector can succeed,” concludes Ranft.