Floor laying students give back

On 28 October 2015, the Sparrow FET College’s Installation of Floor Coverings students carried out their practical training at the Dorcas Crèche orphanage in Westbury. Besides helping equip the students with work experience, the exercise was also a way of giving back to the community. The orphanage consists of two homes, a crèche and a church.

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This project was initiated when a Women of Vision representative, Mrs. Teresa Richards, approached the Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA) requesting that carpets be installed at their Dorcas Crèche and Church in Westbury. Women of Vision are a non-profit organisation dedicated to implementing sustainable programs within communities where violence, substance abuse and unemployment are prevalent.  Women of Vision are inspired by the following quotation by Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

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This achievement was made possible through the generous contributions made by Allan De Wit from Belgotex Carpets, Richard Barrow from Turner Peirson, and Neil Duncan from  Kevin Bates. The Sparrow FET College is delighted to partner with these prestigious leaders in the flooring industry.

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This was not the first time that the Sparrow FET College students have shown their commitment to giving back to the community while upskilling themselves in the process. The students have installed carpets at various centres including the Mmabana Day Care, Westbury Day Care, Hillbrow Sports Facility and the Hillbrow Day Care in Johannesburg.

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Sparrow FET College making great strides

South Africa continues to be plagued by skills shortages partly due to our country’s inability to develop, utilize and retain enough human capital. The lack of investment in skills development has been identified as one of the critical restrictions to economic growth and employment creation by government.

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The scourge of skills shortages contributes to building social ills, leaving our country with high unemployment levels. Although South Africa is considered by many to be the Economic hub of Africa, a lack of skills shortages presents our country as one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Sparrow FET College together with its various industry partners continues to champion the fight against this lack of skills shortages. In 2014, the FET College continued in its pursuit to partner with different industry players including Spar, Pirtek, Belgotex, Imperial and many others to provide youth with critical and scarce skills.

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Through the past year, these partnerships have proved to be efficient in producing qualified artisans. Many of our graduates are now fulltime employees and some have been absorbed by our partners. The most notable successes were from the Automotive Repair & Maintenance, Assistant Chef and Power Fluid Hose Assembly programs. The aforementioned programs achieved employment successes of 81%, 69% and 68% respectively. Across all programs, we can prove that 60% of our graduates gain full-time employment.

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Credit must be given to the Sparrow Trust employees who played major role in ensuring these successes. This particularly includes the qualified FET facilitators who bring with them a wealth of experience. Most students who enrol into the FET come from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring with them a sense of disillusionment and find it hard to believe that they can succeed in life. This is where the quality of our facilitators comes into play. Because of the facilitators, a lot of the students gradually realise that there is still a fighting chance. “The trick is to not only focus on the study material because I have also taught these students the value that is respect. If you give them respect, this contributes to their self-esteem and self-worth. I try and put them in the employer’s shoes and ask themselves this question, ‘which employee do you think you would employ amongst yourselves?’ says Power Fluid Hose Assembly facilitator, Parker Shamiel.

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It is only through skills development that we are able to continue to successfully produce self-reliant young people. This helps provide South Africa’s economy with a competitive advantage over the rest of the world.