The Thuthukani Adult Workshop was established to run parallel to Thuthukani Special School as an alternative exit strategy for learners who have completed their schooling.
The Adult Workshop’s main objectives are to offer supported employment to ex-pupils of Thuthukani Special School and other intellectually disabled adults and to prepare workers for absorption into the open labour market. The Workshop’s secondary objectives are to help workers to become productive members of society; to restore their faith in themselves, their ability to work and to become contributing members of society.
The Adult Workshop is supported by the Department of Social Development who supplies a subsidy to the Workshop. However, to qualify for the subsidy, the Workshop Manager must have the following in place: a business plan, a disabled labour force, work to do, supervisors, as well as a premise to operate from that is accessible and meets health and safety requirements.
The Workshop rents space from Thuthukani Special School. The Adult Workshop currently employs 120 adults with intellectual disability.
The Workshop’s original contract work was created by local business owners, Peter and Lyn Bannock, who responded to the dire need for inclusive employment in the community. Peter has chosen not to mechanise his factory, but to provide the contract for labour intensive manual work to the Thuthukani Adult Workshop. This local business owner has supported the workshop for many years, and he gave us a commitment that this contract would run for at least the next 15 years. Local community leaders have also expressed a commitment to the workshop and other contracts on a smaller basis are often granted to the workshop. The Thuthukani Recycling project, with support from the Felixton community and other local businesses create additional sheltered employment opportunities for adults with severe intellectual disability.
The model used is a model of supported employment with the workshop manager acting as link between the Department of Social Development and the Workshop as well as the Community and the Workshop. Groups of ±30 workers have 1 supervisor who assists them to do the jobs and coaches them in their pre-vocational skills. Workers are assisted to access a disability grant and they earn a wage based on their production. This means that while some workers can perform for longer hours and earn a higher wage, other workers are supported to work for as long as they can, and then they still have a safe place to be for the rest of the day. All workers have a bus pass and use public transport to and from work. This allows them to fulfil the role of worker. Many of our workers are the breadwinners for their families. Some workers have gone on to be employed at local businesses and all have been successfully integrated into the local community.