Recruiting South Africans with Disabilities

Finding a job in South Africa can be a taxing task to pursue whether you are able bodied or not. Imagine the pressure disabled communities must be under to find employment in South Africa.


It has been reported in a 2007 community survey that around four percent of the South African population has a disability. While four percent doesn't sound like a lot of people, out of roughly forty seven million people in South Africa that means just over a few million people in South Africa have disabilities.


While recruiters are encouraged to assist in empowering candidates with disabilities, this portion of recruitment is neglected in South Africa. Despite the government's efforts for national economic empowerment of Job Seekers with disabilities, there are still challenges that stagger the growth of this empowerment.


Recruiters are encouraged to market the skills of Job Seekers with disabilities and educate employers of the opportunities that exist in this community. Job Seekers with disabilities are generally judged based on the simple fact that they are disabled and not if they are skilled to perform the job function or not. Naturally depending on a person's disability, certain job functions may not be viable options but this is no different to an able bodied person not having the relevant skills to qualify to apply to a job vacancy.


Recruiters need to constantly remember that despite employment equity ratios and legislative requirements, if a person lacks the basic skill and knowledge to perform a specific job function they do not qualify to fill the role. Similarly if a Job Seeker with a disability 'out qualifies' an able bodied candidate they should be placed in the role despite the details of their disability. has compiled a list of guidelines for Recruiters to implement so as to ensure that all candidates with the required skills are awarded the opportunity to apply to relevant vacancies regardless of their disability status.


Recruiting South Africans with Disabilities


The Job Advert


For a Candidate with disabilities to assess whether they may qualify for a role or not they need as much information regarding the job function as possible. All Job adverts should be unambiguous and clearly discuss the requirements of the job function. In order to attract the most relevant applicant, skills, responsibilities and day to day functions should be detailed enough for any Job Seeker to make an informed application decision. Without detailed information, the relevancy of a candidate's application is that much more difficult to judge and recruiters often find themselves with huge volumes of irrelevant job applications.


Short Listing Applications


Successful recruitment of the 'best man for the Job' calls for a non-discriminatory, fair and unbiased selection process. No amount of emphasis can be placed on the importance of the Recruiters ability to identify relevant candidates based on their skill and ability and not their disability status. Again, should an applicant not possess the functional ability to perform a required task, they would not qualify for the role. Similarly if an able bodied candidate lacked the qualifications or experience required they too would be unsuccessful in their application.


The Job Interview


As with the short listing process, interviews must be conducted in a non-discriminatory, unbiased and fair fashion. If a Job Seeker has disclosed a disability or has a self evident disability, this may be discussed but only in light of whether or not their impairment may affect their performance in the given role. Any other reference or questioning regarding a person's disability may not be entertained and would be considered discriminatory if paid irrelevant attention to.

Recruiters and employers are entitled to ask questions in order to meet 'reasonable accommodation' requirements but this must be managed in an unbiased manner and certainly not to the detriment of the Job Seekers application.


Candidates with disabilities are well aware of the challenges they have to face when looking for a job in South Africa.  Regardless of social and legislative requirements, as Recruiters, it is our basic job function to conduct fair and unbiased recruitment processes with each candidate who commissions us to represent them. Provided that a candidate's skill and basic ability to perform a specific task matches the required criteria, employers are required to provide (reasonable accommodation) comfortable working conditions for all employees. So as employers may make provisions for air conditioners, sufficient lighting and ablution facilities for able bodied employees, they too are required to cater for Job Seekers with disabilities.