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SHA investigates the thoughts and opinions of South African youth and how they perceive society and people with disabilities

Johannesburg, South Africa, 9th September 2015 – Stanley Hutcheson & Associates (SHA), a Skills Development Firm specialising in practical work readiness programmes, conducted a lifestyle survey[1] with a group of learners to ascertain their societal perceptions on their communities and people with disabilities (PWDs).

Stanley Hutcheson, Founder and Managing Director of SHA says, “At SHA we specialise in placing matric graduates in leading corporates across all industries. Our candidates have to meet the criteria specified by our clients’ qualification requirements. In order to meet our clients’ needs, it’s critical that we have a clear insight into our students’ opinions regardless of whether they are abled-bodied or have a disability. By making sure we understand their point of view, we can also ensure that our learners’ are happy with their placements.”

The survey was conducted in Johannesburg with the majority of students being between the ages of 20 and 28 years old. A noteworthy finding revealed a contradiction between how learners and society perceive each other. According to the respondents, over 74% (percent) felt that they were ambitious and respectful to those around them despite feeling that they were seen as lazy and arrogant by society. Augustus Xaba, a participant in the survey explains, “In my dealings with the general public, I felt that I was perceived as naive, arrogant and lazy, but I don’t feel this is the case. People need to listen and observe before making a judgement call. I am working hard to eventually open my business within the automotive industry and there are a lot of likeminded students out there.”

Hutcheson adds, “Interestingly Xaba’s point alludes to the next significant finding in our research. Aside from familial role models, 14% (percent) of students felt that they were their own best role model. This sentiment could be linked to the respondents feeling that our country is not supportive enough to students and people with disabilities.”

However, this did not curb their positive outlook for the future, with 40% (percent) of respondents stating that they are committed to finishing their qualification; and a further 33% (percent) wanting to establish their own businesses one day. This spirit of entrepreneurship, combined with the fact that 86% (percent) of students felt that they could empathise with those different to themselves, bodes well when challenging negative stigmas and stereotypes facing people with disabilities.

Nearly half of respondents felt that a negative mind-set was what really limited people in general and not just those with a disability. 71% (percent) felt that PWDs could do the same or just as good a job as themselves; and 29% (percent) believed that PWDs are capable, but sometimes job specifications would come into play. Not one participant felt that PWDs are incapable of being a productive/contributing employee.

Hutcheson concludes, “SHA has been challenging generalised perceptions about people with disabilities since 2002. The fact that our students who took part in this survey have such a positive outlook on PWDs means that we are succeeding.”


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