Drone training opportunity for people with disabilities in SA

An African information technology giant has teamed up with two drone companies in South Africa to equip people living with disabilities with skills in drone technology.

EOH, which is one of the largest technology services companies in Africa and has a wide range of solutions in industry consulting, IT services, software, industrial technologies and business process outsourcing, will be footing the bill for the training of five post-graduate agriculture professionals living with disabilities, in an unprecedent development which will see people with disabilities go through drone school for the first ever time in South Africa.

The training will be provided by Ntsu Drone Academy and UAV Aerial Works, the two drone services companies that EOH has chosen to work with for this venture.

Qualifying students will choose between training for a Remote Pilot’s Licence (which will include a beyond visual line of sight and an aviation security course) or a Remote Maintenance Technician certification.

According to statistics from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), there are 3,496 Remote Pilot Licence Holders in South; none of whom are living with disabilities.

Obviously, this is a reality that needs to be corrected; hence this new opportunity.

“The objective of the project is to identify potential students, with a focus on persons living with disability, to equip with skills that would see them get involved in the drone industry,” said Sam Twala, founder and Managing Director of Ntsu Avation Solutions, the company under which Ntsu Drone Academy falls.

“Ntsu Drone Academy, our CAA-accredited training school offering Drone Pilot Training (RPL) will be responsible for training the qualifying students and ensuring that they obtain their RPLs at the end of the programme.”

Thusanang Enabling Support Services, an organisation that assists people with disabilities to seamlessly function in society by offering services such as special medical consumables, caregiver training, Road Accident Fund (RAF) benefits, a mobile clinic and motivational talks, has also joined the partnership to help with the student selection process.

UAV Aerial Works will oversee the practical side of the training process and take care of the students’ on-the-job training.

“This is an awesome collaboration,” said Kim James, Director at UAV Aerial Works. “As EOH, Ntsu Drone Academy, UAV Aerial Works and Thusanang Enabling Support Services, we have combined our passion for making a real difference in our country by bringing this drone training programme to individuals living with a disability.

“This will happen in a phased approach to support the selected individuals to get through the SACAA Class 3 Medical tests and then to be trained and ready to be absorbed by the commercial drone industry into full time employment.”

Of which finding employment should not be a worry for the qualifying students, as an agricultural RPL is one of the most sought-after skills on the South African drone space. It requires somebody with intimate knowledge of agricultural systems, who will understand what to look for when using a drone to check the health of a crop, or to check areas of a field with too much or too little water.

It also explains why the students to be trained would be required to have a demonstrated background in agriculture, besides other requirements, like they have to be eighteen years or older.

Applications will close on June 17 this year, and the first phase of training is scheduled to start in September or October.

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