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Miner champions local business, youth employment

An image of Impala Platinum's 16 Shaft at its Rustenburg operation

BIGGER PICTURE Implats' school support programme at Impala Rustenburg assists 19 primary and 12 high schools

14th June 2024

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer

     

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Amid a challenging economic landscape marked by scarce job opportunities, platinum group metal (PGM) mining company Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) remains committed to fostering local business growth and opening employment avenues for its host communities.

“The primary challenge in South Africa is the high youth unemployment rate. There is no lack of talent or willing youth in South Africa, but rather a lack of job opportunities available to them,” says Implats corporate communication group head Alice Lourens.

She adds that the Southern Africa operating environment poses further hurdles, as the region is impacted on by persistent political and socioeconomic challenges, sluggish global growth, weakening local currencies, soaring inflation and interest rates, power and water disruptions and poor service delivery.

Despite these challenges, Implats continues to prioritise programmes and initiatives that benefit the company and its host communities, as well as stakeholders in its sphere of influence.

Investing in Skills Development
Implats invests in an array of skills development initiatives, including adult education and training (AET), artisan and nonartisan training, cadet training programmes, in-house graduate development programmes, coaching and mentoring, as well as leadership, supervisory and portable skills training.

AET provides a conceptual foundation that encourages lifelong learning and development, while the training of artisans and nonartisans is conducted through learnerships and skills programmes at dedicated centres.

The cadet training programmes develop critical mining skills among the youth of local communities. The cadets also receive training in financial life skills and basic business skills.

Lourens explains that, in support of young talent, 100 new mining cadets from local communities were enrolled in 2023, along with 327 new learnerships covering skills for occupations such as electrician, fitter, diesel mechanic, boilermaker, instrument mechanician and rigger.

The in-house graduate development programme is offered for graduate interns and experiential learners, with preference given to those from local communities.

“Our goal is to deliver education and skills development programmes that open employment opportunities,” says Lourens.

Investing in education and skills development is a strategic priority for Implats, as it generates shared value by nurturing local talent, offering career growth opportunities and reducing dependence on external labour sources, she elaborates.

Implats’ commitment to education is evident in various initiatives, with the company’s school support programme at Impala Rustenburg assisting 19 primary and 12 high schools, benefiting over 10 000 learners. Almost 200 young teachers receive mentoring to enhance their teaching skills, while grade 12 learners benefit from Saturday classes to prepare for National Senior Certificate examinations.

Implats also offers yearly bursaries for tertiary education to employees and community members to support community education and career goals.

Last year, 55 matriculants – half of whom were female – from the Impala Rustenburg mine communities received bursaries to pursue careers in various fields, Lourens notes. The bursaries support studies in mechanical, mine, chemical and electrical engineering, as well as chemistry, accounting, surveying, teaching, nursing and human resources.

Beyond Education
Through its enterprise and supplier development (ESD) programmes, Implats supports youth-owned small, medium-sized and microenterprises by developing host community businesses to accelerate inclusive economic growth, particularly those owned by women and youth.

These programmes include business training, market access assistance and funding facilitation.

“Our long-term strategic focus is to help community enterprises become part of our supply chain and transition to providing their services nationally,” says Lourens.

In 2023, Impala Rustenburg launched its R10.4-million economic inclusion centre, which serves as a business hub, providing services, such as business training and office space, with access to boardrooms and computer workstations.

The Impala Rustenburg and Marula operations have advanced initiatives to avail opportunities to tier-one companies, with particular emphasis on black women- and youth-owned businesses.

“Women- and youth-owned businesses that narrowly fall short of our requirements to participate in a sourcing event will in future be referred to our ESD programme for development,” Lourens adds.

The ESD programme helps Implats’ operations make significant progress towards its targeted spending with these designated groups, in alignment with its social and labour plan commitments, she explains.

The programme offers opportunities for host-community entrepreneurs to develop sustainable enterprises that can supply Implats with high-quality goods and services, and explore opportunities beyond the mining sector.

Implats also invested R13-million in ESD initiatives in South Africa last year. Through its ESD programmes, it equips community businesses with the necessary skills to develop sustainably and create jobs, thereby stimulating economic growth in the region and the country.

Further, the Implats Retail Youth Development Programme, in partnership with the traditionally governed community Royal Bafokeng Nation, offers youth training and employability beyond the mining sector. It aims to equip youth with in-demand skills and create employment opportunities in the retail sector.

A group of 179 youth from Impala Rustenburg’s communities successfully completed the programme in November 2023, graduating with a national certificate in wholesale and retail stock control.

“The intent of all our programmes is to equip the youth with qualifications, skills and experience that will increase their chances for employment or absorption within the relevant sector,” Lourens concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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