In 1998, the government enacted the Skills Development Act which became the groundwork for organisations such as the Skills Development Training Authority. While several organisations run learnership programmes in South Africa, it is SETA that is ultimately responsible for regulating them, thereby achieving the Development Act’s goals.

Altitude Facilities Management, an organisation that assists companies in complying with the national and provincial laws surrounding the employment of disabled persons, works hand-in-hand with Altitude Skills Development who run SETA-approved learnership programmes. Between Altitude Skills Development and Facilities Management, they not only train a new generation of persons with disabilities for the world of work but they also have mechanisms in place to support and find successful employment for their graduates.

Altitude’s 12-month learnership programmes in South Africa focus on both the necessary theoretical and practical skills that an individual would need in order to succeed in finding sustainable employment. While the size of the programmes at Altitude had only 50 or so individuals last year, the benefit candidates received was invaluable.

I interviewed a candidate who had completed the 2015 programme with Altitude and, after hearing her story, I have become convinced of the life-changing effects that learnership programmes can have on people’s lives.

After being admitted in Valkenberg for 3 months and losing her home along with most of her possessions, her Occupational Therapist suggested that she make contact with the Altitude Facilities Management to see how they might assist her going forward.

Before the candidate contacted Altitude, she had only completed standard nine and, as a result of her stay in Valkenberg, was unemployed. After entering into and completing the learnership programme with Altitude, she was immediately employed. As of September this year, she moved from her job at Altitude to work in the Disability Sector.

The learnership programme has, for this candidate, not only resulted in long-term successful employment but it has also sparked a desire in her to continue working in the Disability Sector as a whole.

Employment is a vital part of the South African economy which, in turn, is vital for the country’s overall ability to thrive. From that perspective learnership programmes resulting in long-term, sustainable employment plays a pivotal role in improving the national economy. Employment, regardless of a person’s ability, allows for them to become financially-independent and self-reliant.

Since disability can, by its very nature, make a person more dependent on others in a society where persons with disabilities are at a constant disadvantage, finding successful and sustainable employment for them not only makes them more financially-independent but allows for them to feel more like an equal member of society.

Learnership programmes, while important for any economy to thrive, have another dimension of emotional and physical independence for the Disabled Community.

Thanks to Altitude Skills Development, accessible learnerships and resulting employment are granting more disabled persons a greater sense of identity as South Africans.

For more information on Altitude Skills Development and Facilities Management go to or phone 021 761 5321.

Written by Aidan Bizony, a wheelchair-user, for Altitude Skills Development