Partnerships are key to upskilling SA youth

South Africa’s further education and training (FET) institutions and private sector companies have to form innovative partnerships to successfully address the country’s twin challenge of a critical skills shortage coupled with high youth unemployment.

Sparrow FET College was founded in 2010 to provide a theoretical, practical, and real-world application approach to skills development and training for learners from a disadvantaged background.

The college is a social enterprise that works with both government and private companies to identify which skills are in demand, and to train learners in these areas – including in construction, engineering, hospitality and IT – with the outcome being an accredited NQF level qualification.

A fundamental difference at Sparrow is that educators go beyond just what’s in the curriculum; not only are they experts in their field, but they bring their own life experience into the classroom and provide learners with a mentor or role model to look up to. This includes coaching learners in areas such as life skills, financial literacy and more.

Learners also cover practical parts of the curriculum content in a simulated workplace environment to better prepare them for the real-world workplace – be it a workshop or a chef’s kitchen.

In addition, while learners completing their studies across many of the country’s FET colleges are left to try and find companies willing to provide them with internships by themselves, Sparrow works with industry partners to place students, where they get further training, learn to adapt to the workplace environment, and are prepared for future employment.

Our placement process starts with a psychometric assessment, and continues onto monitoring by job coaches to ensure students continue to develop and are capable of carrying out their duties at the workplace.

We feel this is where the college’s success lies – it’s done to strike a balance between our social responsibility needs, with the requirement of companies for competent and reliable employees – and build a sustainable relationship between the college and industry partners.

South Africa’s amended broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) codes have already placed a strong emphasis on skills development, with a priority on women and marginalised disabled youth –  both from the existing workforce, and unemployed, previously disadvantaged youth.

But by working closer together, the country’s FET colleges and private sector can build fruitful partnerships that go beyond simply meeting compliance requirements and actually make a meaningful effort toward creating inclusive, growth driven opportunities for South Africa’s youth.

“I learnt a lot about theory and practical requirements for professional cooking, which is helping me at my work placement.”

Sinah grew up in the North West of Rustenburg with her grandparents, when her mother passed away. After completing her matric in 2011, Sinah spent her time looking for employment and in 2013 she attended a cookery course, which she could not complete due to financial pressures on the family. It was only in 2016 that Sinah heard about Sparrow FET College when a staff member from Sparrow visited Rustenburg to recruit candidates.. Sinah began her Professional Cookery course in July 2016 and spoke about how much she learnt at the college:

“I learnt a lot about theory and practical requirements for professional cooking, which is helping me at my work placement.”

Sinah is currently undertaking her work placement at Gold Reef City and is enjoying the experience. Despite finishing the theoretical part of the Professional Cookery course in December 2016, Sinah still feels supported by Sparrow. Students have regular visits from job coaches to check on their progress at the work placement and address any challenges they face.

Sinah is currently living with sister in Johannesburg who has also recently started studying at Sparrow…

“Sparrow is a good place for people like us who don’t have any money. It helps people, which is why I encouraged my sister to also study at Sparrow FET College.”

When Sinah finishes her course, she would like to get a job a permanent job in the food industry and has ambitions to become a sous chef.

If you would like to join Sparrow FET College today, email us on admissions@sparrowschools.co.za to book your assessment or if you are looking for an extra pair of hands you can host our learners for 6 months at no cost contact us: 011 673 4410/19. 

“Sparrow FET College has given me an education. Thank you!”

Lerato Sekgage had a challenging start to life. She lost her mother when she was four years old, her father passed away when she was seven years old and then Lerato and her sister moved in with her grandparents who passed away in 2014. Lerato rents a small place near the Vaal Dam and before she heard about Sparrow, Lerato was unemployed and looking for work. Her small inheritance from her grandparents was running low and she was desperate to find work.

Lerato heard about the opportunity to get qualified at Sparrow FET College through a friend, and was apprehensive about applying at first due to the lack of understanding on the course. Lerato signed up to the End User IT Programme a month later than her fellow students and said it was hard work catching up but ‘worth it!

“I really enjoyed Sparrow; the facilitator, the learning and my classmates. It really was so much fun. I particularly enjoyed learning how to use Microsoft Outlook.”

Lerato has now completed her workplace experience at Purple Esther, a manufacturing and supply company in Sophiatown and completed her course at Sparrow FET College. She is now assisting the Business Admin facilitator for one week every month and seeks new employment in the IT arena. 

“Sparrow has given me an education; I have learnt how to use a computer and I have also had great assistance to get work experience. Thank you!”

Get Qualified Now! Email: admissions@sparrowschools.co.za

Or, if your business needs an extra set of hands please contact Mary on marywebber@sparrowschools.co.za