Imperial Logistics has undertaken significant initiatives designed to support the development of youth skills and to address the critical skills shortage gap. These initiatives form part of the company’s commitment to improve the lives of others through sustainable investment. This work is carried out by the Imperial Logistics Academy, the Health Sciences Academy, internships and a bursary programme, among others.
The Imperial Logistics Academy has a graduate development programme that works in partnership with local government and the Transport Education and Training Authority (Teta). At its inception the programme focused on developing honours and degree students from traditional universities and was primarily aimed at the junior management level. However, Imperial soon realised it was missing out on opportunities to reach people who had potential to add enormous value to the company.
“We partnered with the universities of technology and FET colleges to reach graduates who may have a lower qualification, but who can fulfil important roles across a range of levels in organisations,” says learning and development executive Colette Wessels. “Our aim is to upskill these graduates through our programmes and learnerships, and to prepare them for careers across our environment and industry. Now we can provide training and development that can help to address the country’s critical skills gap and see both our business and the industry reap the benefits.”
The Imperial graduate development programme offers experience on the job and provides students with exposure to various elements of industries through job rotations, work assignments and special projects. Graduates are granted the opportunity to work in disciplines that include logistics and supply chain, industrial engineering, IT, human resources and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (Cima).
“Imperial is also able to offer training to Cima students, as we are an accredited partner,” says Wessels. “We recently pushed the academy’s capabilities even further by partnering with the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Teta, providing internship opportunities for 143 young South Africans. The City of Ekurhuleni, working with the department of economic development, chose Imperial as its partner in the graduate placement and youth development programme; a signature achievement for all concerned.”
Imperial initially took on 19 graduates; each was then put through the learnership programme and provided with workplace experience at Imperial. Once the 12-month programme was completed, 14 of the attendees were offered employment in the company. In March 2015, the organisation took on a further 43 graduates as part of the municipality partnership and these individuals are located at various operations in the transport and warehousing supervision learnership programme.
“Earlier this year 100 new interns joined the programme and our list of skilled young people continues to grow,” says Wessels. “Another way in which we are boosting skills development is through our bursary programme. We offer this to second-year students who are showing excellent academic results and in 2014 we had 15 bursars, eight of whom are now employed by the company. This really shows how committed we are to developing a pipeline of talent for the long-term benefit of both the country and the business.”
The Imperial Health Sciences Supply Chain Academy is affiliated with the Logistics Academy and is one of Africa’s leading providers of training and development for people working in the continent’s public health supply chain. The academy is involved in upskilling workers in the public health supply chain and introduced its first offering — the Warehouse Operations Management Programme — in 2006.
“Today the academy is regarded as one of Africa’s leading training and skills development organisations in its specialised field,” says Wessels. It offers both on-site and distance learning and trains for the industry at large, not just for its own needs. In fact, some of the latest graduates are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea.”
The goal of Imperial when first establishing the academy was to ensure the secure and sustainable supply of quality medications to Africans. The training provided by the academy has played a crucial role in helping the business to achieve this goal, as the graduates improve the performance of the public health supply chain and serve as a catalyst for change within the industry.
“We wanted our qualifications to be internationally recognised and, to this end, we have collaborated with local universities,” says Wessels. “Imperial is a member of People that Deliver, an organisation set up by foundations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation and the World Health Organisation. In fact, we are the only private sector logistics business in that organisation and our input is made through the Imperial Health Sciences Supply Chain Academy.”
Through commitment to others and a focus on strengthening skills development in South Africa and beyond, Imperial Logistics continues to make a difference to the lives of others and addresses some of the most pressing issues facing the continent today.