20 years skilling South African youth

23rd October 2019 By: Creamer Media Reporter

20 years skilling South African youth

2019 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Go for Gold Education-to-Employment programme.  For the past 20 years, Go for Gold has boasted the efficacy of public-private partnerships, combining expertise and passion for tangible transformation in South Africa. 

The programme culminated in 1999 when founder Shaun Webber, then CEO of NMC Construction noticed the shortage of black technical graduates entering the industry. He identified that students were already disadvantaged at school level, particularly in the poor Maths and Science Bachelor Pass rates and had no post-schooling provisions to support students’ career aspirations to enter the built environment. Originating in the Western Cape, in 2015 the programme expanded to Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

The 4-phased programme was created to act as a skills development pipeline, advancing black students’ performance in Maths and Science at some of South Africa’s poorest schools as identified by one of Go for Gold’s partners, the Department of Education. Qualifying students must express a strong interest in pursuing technical vocations, have adequate Maths and Science marks and be dedicated to joining the industry.

Once enrolled in Phase 1, students receive two years of intensive Maths and Science tuition in Grades 11 and 12, Leadership Development (Life Skills) training and enjoy numerous site visits and presentations by technical professionals from 24 Go for Gold partner companies. Once matriculated, the programme and partner companies sustain post-schooling opportunities for the students through paid internships (Phase 2) that help these young adults determine their course of study, based on practical exposure to the industry prior to entering tertiary institutions (Phase 3), therefore suitably utilizing bursaries at tertiary institutions. Once graduated, partner companies enjoy retaining their investment by employing the students they have supported since Grade 11. Each phase of the programme benefits industry partners whom each year aim to meet their transformational and human capital needs for technical professionals.

Go for Gold, a registered NPO and a structured programme under the Construction and DTI Codes, has received international recognition and numerous awards over the last 20 years. However, the success of the programme would not be possible without the progressive built environment companies who have proven they are passionate about transformation and have partnered with the programme. These include, but not limited to, Martin & East, Stefanutti Stocks, Haw & Inglis, Concor, Civils 2000, PERI Formworks, Sutherland Engineers, dhk Architects, Power Group, Aveng-GrinakerLTA, CSV Construction, Mokwena Surfacing, Triamic Construction, Danoher, Axsys Projects, Amandla Construction, W Unser Construction, Esor Construction, Smart Civils, iKusasa Rail, R&N Master Builders, Kew Maintenance, Grindrod Rail and Burger and Wallace. Education partners include the Department of Education, Star Schools Programme, Kutlwanong Centre for Maths, Science and Technology, Routes to Resilience and all tertiary institutions in the Western Cape and Gauteng regions. The Go for Gold board carries representation by heads of industry from the built environment, alumni and the Department of Education who ensure the organization stays aligned with industry needs and norms. 

At a time where South Africa’s youth unemployment problem is still a contentious issue and our President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the private sector to support youth development, the Go for Gold Education-to-Employment programme is South Africa’s best kept secret. While continuing to provide tangible solutions to numerous Sustainable Development Goals, the future of Go for Gold will entail growing and diversifying the number of partner companies to support hundreds more deserving youth. Go for Gold plans to welcome other industries that require technical professionals, including the manufacturing sector and companies asserting careers in the 4th Industrial Revolution.