A combination of partnerships and an adherence to high-quality standards of training is necessary to provide the broadest, most impactful and valuable youth development initiatives for industries, says testing, inspection and certification multinational SGS South Africa certification and business enhancement division business manager Elfriede Giard.
State-owned power utility Eskom’s Grootvlei power station, seven partner companies providing contract services at Grootvlei and SGS South Africa provided RiskStar health and safety training, as well as three months of work experience for 25 youths of the Dipaleseng municipality, in Mpumalanga.
“Partners were crucial to the success of this initiative. The goal was to empower local youths with valuable skills and experience that they could immediately take to the jobs market. SGS believes that the partners provided the critical component of workplace exposure, experience and mentorship.”
The broad partnership also enabled the initiative to train more youths than would have been possible if the companies had tried to do so individually, emphasises Giard.
“SGS routinely provides internships and mentor programmes that take in youths and provide them with training and workplace experience at the company. However, it will assess the impact of the initiative to determine whether to roll out similar initiatives in the future.”
The partnerships and especially the workplace experience and on-the-job mentorship of the initiative provide a diversified experience for the students.
“The students were exposed to common high-risk, hazardous, confined-space, hazardous chemicals and working-at-height work environments. They gained first-hand experience of the environments, as well as the practices and processes . . . to work safely in these environments.”
Of the 25 students who started the programme, four qualified and one student has already accepted a full-time job offer.
The youths retain access to the inter- national-grade education materials and the online training platform, and can review work they struggled with or check a fact or step in a process should they be uncertain.
“The intention is to empower youths, which is why the training they received meets the highest international health and safety standards (the materials are approved by the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management) and provides internationally marketable skills,” concludes Giard.