ITC Hearing Impaired Skills Programme Awards

After 16 years of hard work and extreme dedication to the hearing impaired community, it was an absolute priviledge to attend the Industry Training and Consulting (ITC) hearing impaired skills programme awards.

Spearheaded by Dr Frik Botha, himself a “retired” principal, training for the deaf has culminated in a joint project between ITC, Santam Insurance and the National Institute for the deaf (NID). This first class of graduates has seen nine disabled deaf, all competent in the hosted skills programmes for panelbeating, spray painting and employed in the collision repair industry. These numbers bolster the nine other qualified artisans that ITC trained and placed in body shops before this joint venture.

The next class will see 30 hearing impaired intakes as this programme begins to take flight. “This is not a journey that we take alone,” said Botha. “We are very thankful for our partners Santam and the NID as well as the families of our students who make great sacrifices for their loved ones to stay in the programme. We also want to say thank you to Wonderboom Panelbeaters and Jock’s Auto Body and Dent Removers, who helped train our graduates on the shop floor.”

Chatting to the ITC team, it becomes obvious that the challenges for someone who is hearing impaired are many. Students are almost shell shocked by the amount of commitment and hard work you need to do to achieve your qualification. For some, it proves overwhelming, and this is where the support of their family is integral. Just imagine being placed in a completely foreign environment, possibly far from your only support structure and no one understands you. Very intimidating. Other practical worries are the first couple of months that a student is placed at a body shop. The transport costs of getting to work and back are often not taken into account, as they’ve never earned money before. Something we might just take for granted and not give a second thought to.

Yes, this programme is about creating skills for the collision repair industry, but truly it’s all about the heart and giving dignity. Heart, because of the passionate work that Dr Frik, Frikkie junior and Jacquilize do, not just every day, but behind the scenes too. Heart, because of the body shops who have opened their doors to a new initiative and embraced it completely. Heart, because family members stood by to encourage and empower. And dignity, because of the complete joy and pride in each students’ face as they received their certificate.

For some this is their first job ever and gaining independence is enormous. For those who are able bodied and not hearing impaired we won’t understand, but we should always try to walk a few miles in someone elses’ shoes. It always does you good to be empathetic.

So where to from here? The next 30 students may have been selected, but Dr Frik is determined to find the people who have fallen through the cracks. Those who have left school and simply disappeared. “It’s these people I want to train and empower,” says Botha.

Looking to the future, ITC want to be able to train their students in spray painting, small area repairs and other skills too. This means they’re on the hunt for paintless dent removal equipment, a Flatliner, plastic repair kits and a refinish coatings partner. If you are able to help with the programme at ITC in any way, please call them on +27 (0)12 379 8684 or mail info@it-c.co.za

Changing someone’s life for the better is always the worthiest of causes.