Graduate programme delivers 85% employment rate
SANDTON CHRONICLE / 17 OCTOBER 2019 - 15.55 / CHANTE HO HIP
SANDTON – Nedbank Foundation and the Nicholas Bhengu Foundation have partnered to unlock the employment potential of disadvantaged graduates.
An employment programme, in partnership with the Nedbank Foundation and the Nicholas Bhengu Foundation, has unlocked the opportunity for varsity graduates to gain real-world work experience. The Work Readiness Programme partnered with a number of local businesses and organisations to place these graduates in entry-level positions, allowing them to learn and grow during their contract period.
Ursula Bhengu of the Nicholas Bhengu Foundation commends the graduates for their hard work. Photo: Chante’ Ho Hip
“We are in a very unique situation where we can actually welcome graduates and give them the necessary work experience that they do deserve,” said Kevin Wheatley from SPAR Southrand who has employed a number of graduates from the programme.
According to Ursula Bhengu of the Bhengu Foundation, the programme was aimed at graduates with disadvantaged backgrounds. There was no specified qualification needed in order to take up the opportunity.
“We told you [the employers] that they do not have the experience, they do not have distinctions and they are from disadvantaged schools and tertiary institutions. But still, you gave them the opportunity,” she commended the participating businesses.
“The main objective of the project was to address graduate unemployment by bridging the gap between their studies and the work environment, allowing a smooth transition into the work place. For every position that was available, we placed two graduates so that they compete for the position. With that model in mind, the expectation rate at the end of the project was 50 per cent,” Bhengu said
The previous project achieved an 85 per cent employment rating in addition to winning an award from the National Skills Authority (NSA) who honours individuals and organisations who have played a vital role in creating opportunities for the youth of South Africa to ‘realise their goals and human potential in the skills training and employment sector’, the NSA defined.
Bhengu added that 300 graduates have since been placed nationally, 282 of whom have successfully completed the project (94 per cent) and 251 graduates have been employed on a fixed-term or permanent contractual basis. “As for the 11 per cent that is still unemployed, the foundation continues to seek employment opportunities for them. We will not give up until they have all been placed,” she said.
“It is tough because when you are from varsity you’re thinking that you are immediately going to get a job, a nice house and a car. But when you start facing reality, especially for those of us who did not get distinctions in varsity, you have to hustle because of the high unemployment rate. People are there with degrees but they do not have jobs,” said graduate David Mehlape in his testimony.
Based on recommendations from the previous project, the foundation had approached Nedbank to help co-fund this year’s project, particularly to increase the stipends of the graduates as well as fund the exit strategy for those who have not yet been absorbed.
“Clearly this shows that this was indeed money well spent. The project exceeded expectations because the quality of the graduates exceeded expectations,” Bhengu commended.
“This journey has not ended with this certification ceremony, there is more ahead. Nelson Mandela once said ‘do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up’,” concluded ZC Mvalo, deputy director-general of the skills development for the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER