ORT South Africa, a non-profit educational and developmental organisation, has teamed up with retailer Mr Price to launch a project that provides grade 11 and 12 pupils with opportunities to gain practical workplace experience so that they are “work ready”.
Called “Work Shadowing”, the three-year project targets pupils, mainly from poor backgrounds, and offers them training in Sector Education and Training Authority-approved courses such as marketing, project management and paralegal practice.
Mike King, project manager of the initiative, said this forms part of ORT SA’s broader programme, called “Geared for Life”. He said since its launch in June this year the project has helped around 150 pupils.
King said ORT draws pupils from the communities of Diepsloot, Alexandra, Soweto and Cosmo City, who attend training at weekends.
Its main responsibility is to approach companies and ask them to have pupils shadow one of their employees who works within ORT’s focus areas. The response has been positive.
How Mr Price helps
Mr Price has embraced the programme as part of “The Red Cap Foundation”, a corporate social investment vehicle through which the company helps communities through a range of education initiatives. The retailer has so far taken 70 of 360 ORT SA pupils and sent them to different stores throughout Gauteng to gain “experiential training” in areas like distribution and finance.
Feedback from some of the managers involved in the project is encouraging, King said. “One store manager expressed enthusiasm and admiration at the calibre of the pupils and said their willingness to work has been quite outstanding. These sentiments have been reiterated by all managers we interviewed from other branches,” he said.
He added that he is positive pupils will be easily integrated into the working world because of the practical skills gained during their “shadowing” experience.