Corobrik, I Can! And the Production Management Institute of South Africa Disability Academy have Joined forces to empower eighteen individuals with skills in plant production. This initiative forms part of Corobrik’s dedication to community upliftment and social responsibility.
“Corobrik has always been committed to assisting the disadvantaged. The company believes in assisting those less fortunate in society with the tools to improve their livelihood,” says Berkley Petty, Corobrik Human Resources Development Manager. “We were attracted to the Disability Academy because their Leanerships provide a full spectrum of assistance for people with disabilities. Access to education leads to work opportunities and economic independence.”
Nine men and nine women living in the greater Pietermaritzburg area in Kwa-Zulu-Natal will benefit from Corobrik’s sponsorship of their Learnership. All trainees, aged between 18 and 29 years, are
Intellectually disabled which makes sourcing suitable employment challenging. Many companies cannot hire people with disabilities to work in factories due to the stringent health and safety requirements.
The Disability Academy was established to provide an opportunity for youth with disabilities to develop vocational and entrepreneurial skills. The Agricultural learnership, run by the Merrivale Academy, is a one-year Level 1 NQF programme that is fully SETA accredited. Clients sponsoring learners can access additional points on their BBBEE scorecard as the learners are employed on a fixed term contract for the duration of the Learnership
Rowan Robinson, the Business Consultant of the Merrivale Academy said, “The Corobrik sponsored Agricultural Learnership is extremely comprehensive with quality assurance check in place. We have external moderators who ensure our learners receive the best practical and theoretical training.”
Training is handled in two ways. Theory is presented at the Merrivale campus, with the practical activities taking place at the I Can! Farm in the Midlands. There are four modules comprising.
Fundamental Literacy, Plant Production, Agricultural Business and Agricultural Practice. On completion in June, the graduates will have grounding in all aspects of Agricultural Plant Production including knowledge about sowing seeds, soil preparation, harvesting, marketing and sales.
“Although the course focuses on agriculture, we do give solid grounding in a number of life which includes budgeting, public transport and safety,” said Robinson. “We are also extremely strict about workplace discipline, teaching about punctuality, cleanliness, appropriate attire and workplace behaviour.”
The first 10 months of the course are dedicated to theoretical training with learners getting practical experience growing their own vegetables on a plot at the academy. These crops are harvested for their own use and for sale, with guidance in marketing and selling of produce all provided. The remaining two months are dedicated to real-time farm work, with learners getting hands-on experience for life on a farm.
“I’ve been impressed with the running of this course,” said Petty who keeps in regular contact with the programme organisers. “The learners are trained in a very nurturing environment, allowing them to easily question anything they don’t understand and pick up the required skills needed for course completion. There is definitely a high motivation to succeed and I think the fact that there have been no drop outs is testament to this.”