Retail chain Shoprite Group has spent more than R700-million over the past five years on skills development and training programmes to enhance the career options of South Africa’s unskilled and unemployed youth.
It has trained 24 308 people in its own Retail Readiness Programme, provided 1 027 bursaries and trained 5 765 young people, over the past three years, in the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme.
“All of these initiatives are aimed at training and upskilling people not previously employed by Shoprite and are focused on helping unemployed youth gain the skills they need to secure jobs in the retail industry," the company says.
The Retail Readiness Programme, which Shoprite says is the largest and most successful skills development initiative undertaken by a South African retailer, comprises five weeks of practical training in stores and two weeks of theoretical training to provide the youth with the basic skills to work in a retail environment or start their own business.
Successful participants receive National Qualifications Framework Level 3 qualifications.
Further, through the YES programme, a business-driven initiative that works with government and labour to build economic pathways for the youth to reduce unemployment, the Shoprite group has created 5 765 youth work opportunities, making it the highest impact employment creator in the programme.
YES participants receive on-the-job training at in-store service departments, like the bakery, deli and the fresh foods department.
“Upon successful completion of the Retail Readiness and YES programmes, learners are offered the opportunity to join the Shoprite group, but it is up to graduates to decide if they want to do so.
"Absorption rates are 53% from the Retail Readiness Programme and 32% from the YES programme, excluding current participants."
“Shoprite follows a 'from school to Shoprite' approach for young people, who may either study on a Shoprite bursary and then join the business or join the Retail Readiness or YES programmes straight out of school.”
There are also several in-house and external programmes in place to upskill Shoprite's 140 000 employees. These include learnerships, skills programmes, internships, bursaries for tertiary education and partnerships with technical and vocational education and training colleges.
Accredited programmes run by Shoprite at its Retail Varsity, a registered private further education and training college, include customer service and artisanal skills, as well as chain store operations, the company says.