Speaker 1 [00:00:04]: Today we are going to talk about an inclusive world of work. And with me here I have…
Speaker 2 [00:00:12]: Harris Ando. I’m a visiting scholar and a professor from the [?? 00:00:17] University of Technology in South Africa. I work in the office of the DVC for teaching and learning.
Speaker 1 [00:00:26]: And I’m Sini Bask. I’m a senior lecturer here in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, and I work mainly with special needs teacher education. So welcome, Harris. Nice to have you here in the studio.
Speaker 2 [00:00:40]: Thank you, Sini.
Speaker 1 [00:00:43]: Today we are going toward a more inclusive world of work. And we are going to discuss some themes that have to do with this topic. In the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, it states that decent work, full and productive employment and quality education are rights for everyone. How could we guarantee an inclusive world of work for everyone, Harris? What do you think?
Speaker 2 [00:01:18]: So, mainly the world of work starts with people having skills. And once they have skill, they then can have decent jobs. So if you look in the context of higher education, then there’s a need for universities to have a mission of inclusiveness. But you see, all over the world, especially in the developed countries and the other developed countries, developing and developed countries, you see that there are lots of efforts and awareness being raised to support teaching and learning of people with special needs. So it is good that moving forward, we also have integration of inclusiveness into higher education strategies and missions in South Africa per se and also across the world. And then lastly, teaching and learning offices should also support people with special needs, with specific pedagogy and other skills they need.
Speaker 1 [00:02:30]: According to the Finnish legislation, the employers are required to make their working places equal and inclusive. And actually, if an employer has more than 30 employees, they are supposed to have a plan for guaranteeing the inclusiveness and equality of the working place. But in fact, this is just theory. I think it doesn’t really happen to everyone at least. So the culture that we have here is that not everyone is that welcome in the world of work. But however, there are things that we could do to make it more inclusive. How is it in South Africa?
Speaker 2 [00:03:19]: So in the South African context, The first thing is we must recognize that the South African government spends a lot of money supporting universities to include people with special needs. So you have lecturers undergoing training on how to teach people with special needs within the higher education context. And then you also have some departments within the universities called the corporate education. They assist them with the placement into industry for internships and on the job training, on the job placement. And then also, because the South African government has given companies the instruction to have some quota of their employees as people with special needs, there’s high demand for graduates who have special needs. So that is the situation in South Africa.
Speaker 1 [00:04:16]: Okay, it sounds like the quota that you have, we don’t really have. So we have the law. And then, of course, especially in the vocational education and training, there’s a long, long history of finding ways to support the students when they integrate into the world of work. We have online training and face-to-face coaching for employers or working life instructors. We have special needs teachers going to the world of work and to the working places to accommodate the working environment and to find suitable things to do for a person with special needs. But still, according to a recent report by [?? 00:05:01], the need for support, especially in these transitions to the world of work, is the thing that we don’t do as well as we could. So there is still yet a lot of work to be done. And actually, if we talk about higher education institutions, the whole concept of giving special support to the students with needs is only developing right now. And I think, if we think about world of work and the integration process for the higher education students, we are only taking the first steps. The processes are still missing. So you talked about the national policies in South Africa. What do you think, what would you do if you could choose the next steps for South Africa, for example?
Speaker 2 [00:06:00]: Within the South African context, there is a clear path for transition, and that is done nationally and institutions have also embraced it. So the quota system is good. But then also the issue of continuous and lifelong learning needs to be discussed. I think that it is not enough when they are done with undergraduates or have a skill for a job. But then we need to move forward to see how they are doing within the industry. Are they getting the needed support for lifelong learning? And then there is a need for institutions to be responsible to ensure continuous life learning for most of people with those needs.
Speaker 1 [00:06:53]: Okay, so maybe the world of work could be a learner in itself too. I think in Finland there are, of course, things that we try to do. We have blind recruitment processes. We are embracing inclusion in theory, but there are still many steps to be taken before we have the right kind of culture, the right kind of attitude that actually appreciates and gives every person the chance to be a part of the world of work. So thank you, Harris, for this lovely discussion and hope to see you soon again.
Speaker 2 [00:07:36]: Thank you, too. But lastly. When it comes to inclusivity, to ensure inclusivity, as I said, Finland has done well with the issue of the definition of people with special needs. That is one challenge we have in South Africa. We have defined it mainly with physical disability, but in Finland it has gone beyond that. The issue of assessment also needs to be looked at. That when they transition, there is some form of assessment within that context. And once we do that, I think we can seek to improve on higher education collaborations and then with people who have special needs. Thank you, Sini, and all the best.