With National Disability Month taking place between 3 November and 3 December, members of the aftermarket motor industry have been considering opportunities the sector presents for disabled people.
These are plentiful; a fact that may surprise those who believe that manual labour that’s a part of a mechanic’s job is an insurmountable obstacle. However, the number of successful people living with disabilities while making their mark on the industry shows that this is certainly not the case.
Kyle Louw, who lost the use of both his legs when he was 13, proves this point: he spent every day after school in his father’s workshop before going on to complete an apprenticeship and qualify as a fully-fledged mechanic.
Meanwhile, Frik Botha has been helping to lower barriers to entry in the industry for deaf and hearing-impaired people. He provides training for people with hearing disabilities at Industry Training and Consulting (ITC), which specialises in providing training for the automotive body repair industry. ITC has trained 63 deaf people in accredited skills to date and has further helped nine deaf people qualify as panel beaters. Learners typically develop their skills through ‘learning by doing’.
ITC is currently focusing on ‘inclusive training’, which sees hearing impaired learners teamed with learners with special education needs schools. This approach aims to improve learners’ chances of being employed in a panel shop, paint shop, or workshop. Frik is hoping that with support from merSETA, RMI, and SAMBRA, the programme will be able to expand into rural areas.
Kyle says that his experience has taught them that any job can be made to accommodate an individual’s disability – which is why he urges people living with disabilities to follow their dreams into the industry.