Graduates, jumpstart your career in 2020 with these tips

Graduates, jumpstart your career in 2020 with these tips

2020 is around the corner, with all-new possibilities to discover – a blank calendar waiting to be filled in. Will 2020 be the year you enter the job market and start building a career? If so, you should give yourself the best chance of success by properly preparing.
From writing the perfect cover letter and CV to impressing in an interview, these tips will help you on your professional journey:
1. Find a job you can apply for
There are many online job portals where vacancies are advertised. You can usually set up notifications on these portals, and then receive information about any new job listings that fit with your requirements.
Also visit the actual websites of companies you are interested in working for or that you think might have opportunities for you. Some companies only list vacancies on their own websites to ensure candidates are interested in the company specifically.
Also, never underestimate the power of your network of friends and family. Tell them that you are looking for a job. Specify what you are looking for and what skills and experience you have. You never know – they might know someone who knows someone, who is looking for someone with your skillset.
2. Compile the perfect CV
When it comes to CVs, you need to keep it professional, simple and to the point. While you might have a standard CV listing your experience and qualifications, it is always best to adapt it to the specific job you are applying for. This might mean focusing on specific skills, highlighting areas of experience relevant to the job, etc. Ask yourself, “Why should I be considered for this position? Why can I do this job?” – your CV should answer these questions. This will show the recruiter or HR person processing the CVs that you actually thought about the job and its requirements, and that is sure to make a good impression.
3. Write the perfect cover letter
A cover letter is your first introduction to the recruiter or HR person, and if it does not impress, they might not even look at your CV. Just like your CV, your cover letter should be catered specifically to the job you are applying for. A generic cover letter is easy to spot, and could convey that you did not carefully consider the actual advertisement, or do not care enough about the position. Also, like your CV, the cover letter should be professional, simple and to the point. Don’t overcomplicate it with “high-brow” language or a lot of unnecessary explanations. Simply answer the questions: “Why should I be considered for this position? Why can I do this job? Why will I be a good fit with the company?”
4. Do research before the interview
As soon as you get an interview, you need to start preparing – this is your chance to convince the interviewer that you should get the job, so make it count. Research the company, and really think about the position you’re applying for ¬– how can you use your skills and experience to excel in this position? What do you bring to the company? How will you add value? How can you grow in the position, and grow the position? If you can covey these answers, you are sure to impress the interviewer.
5. Impress at the interview
And now it’s time for the interview, your chance to sell yourself to the company. It is important to create a positive impression, and the best way to do this is to:
• Be punctual.
• Dress professionally.
• Be open, friendly and smile.
• Talk clearly.
• Answer questions honestly.
• Be yourself, interviewers are good at spotting phonies.
• Convey that you are organised – if you have documents to submit, they should be organised so that you don’t have to shuffle through them to find the right ones.
• Stay calm and collected – if you’re nervous, take a moment to take a deep breath to calm your nerves.
If you’ve prepared properly and follow the above tips, there is no reason why your interview shouldn’t be a success.
6. Don’t give up
Although it is very disheartening when you don’t get the job you applied for, don’t let it get you down. Another candidate might simply have been a better fit for the company at that particular time, and an even better opportunity might be waiting for you just around the corner.
Good luck!



Corporate social responsibility: Do your part and make a difference

Corporate social responsibility: Do your part and make a difference

In a nutshell, the European Commission has defined corporate responsibility (CSR) as “the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society”. Although very simplified, this definition gets to the heart of what corporate social responsibility is – how companies can implement and sustain initiatives and strategies that ensure they positively affect society and their communities.
Corporate social responsibility has many benefits for a company. Today, socially-aware consumers and employees place a high importance on working for and spending their money with businesses that prioritise CSR.
A 2015 study by the Kenexa High Performance Institute in London found that companies that had a true commitment to corporate social responsibility by far outperformed those that did not, with an average return on assets 19 times higher.
Research by Cone Communications also reflects how much importance consumers place on corporate social responsibility. According to the research, 63% of Americans hope businesses will drive social and environmental change in the absence of government regulation. Nearly 90% of the consumers surveyed said they would buy a product because a company supported an issue they care about. More importantly, roughly 75% will refuse to buy from a company if they learn it supports an issue contrary to their own beliefs.
Thus, a company’s corporate social responsibility strategies and initiatives deeply impact its image with consumers.
When it comes to employees, studies have found that an employer’s CSR strategies affect morale and engagement. This is especially true for millennials, who are estimated to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025.
It becomes very clear that corporate social responsibility makes perfect business sense – but where should you start?
Corporate social responsibility falls into four categories: environmental efforts and sustainability, philanthropy, ethical labour practices and volunteering. All four areas are very important, and companies should incorporate all four into their CSR strategy, however, here we will focus on philanthropy in particular.
Philanthropy involves becoming involved with a charity, cause or NGO, usually by providing financial aid, products or services. It is important to choose a cause that reflects the company’s ideals, so a successful partnership can be formed. Choosing a local cause to invest in will also benefit the company’s community.
While there are many worthy causes deserving of aid, consider the impact the charity or cause has on the community, its potential for growth, and its potential impact on South Africa as a country.
An example of an NGO changing lives and positively impacting South Africa is the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust. Since its inception in 1990, it has focused on bringing accredited schooling to cognitively-disabled and disadvantaged youth. It has since then established and expanded organisational structures to address a wider range of needs found in the current South African environment – this includes the creation of Sparrow FET College in 2010.
The Sparrow FET College adopts a theory, practice and real-world application approach to skills development. In the classroom, learners cover theoretical curriculum content in a simulated workplace environment through which theoretical and practical skills are taught and applied. Learners then carry these skills to their industry placement.
Sparrow FET College and the industry work together to provide learners with internships during which they are fully supported, comprehensively trained, and prepared for future employment.
Tackling education and unemployment in South Africa is indeed a worthy cause, and there are also additional benefits for corporations that support Sparrow. For more information, visit the Sparrow website.


Why vocational training is important in the South African economic landscape

Why vocational training is important in the South African economic landscape

Speaking to Brand South Africa, the director of international at the City and Guilds Group, Mike Dawe, cites vocational training as one of the essential cogs in the economic machine of the country.

“Vocational education can help fill skills gap, boost productivity, enhance industries employment, all of which have a significant impact on individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole,” says Dawe.

Indeed, Vocational Education Training (VET) is essential to keep the wheels of enterprise turning. Also known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), this type of skills development training sets out to develop both the skills and knowledge required to do a particular job within a specific profession, craft or trade. Within the realm of formal education, many public or private TVET colleges and technical universities offer national qualifications – as opposed to other ways in which a person can acquire vocational training, including apprenticeships or on-the-job training.

Vocational training differs from other tertiary qualifications (those offered at universities, for example) in the sense that the focus falls on preparing students for their chosen profession or trade by equipping them with the skills and theoretical knowledge needed to perform the day-to-day duties associated with their trade or profession. Here, the focus is primarily on real skills, although these are still grounded with theoretical industry-related knowledge.

Vocational education for careers in the technical or practical fields contribute greatly to addressing the skills shortage in the country, as well as to reaching the National Development Goals for employment. By creating a workforce that is capable of supporting inclusive growth of the economy and the many sectors that it is made up of, vocational training is imperative to initiating economic growth and providing employment opportunities in a country where skills are valued and scarce.

A 2016 report on VET in South Africa, India, the US and the UK, compiled by the City and Guilds Group, found that 36% of the South African CEOs surveyed were extremely concerned about the availability of key skills. Compared to a global average of 17%, the opinions of local CEOs speak volumes about just how important vocational education training is to furthering the country’s economic and development goals.

To find out more about how the programmes offered at Sparrow FET College can further your career, contact us today.


How to recognise and avoid bogus colleges

How to recognise and avoid bogus colleges

In an economic environment where skills translate to employment opportunities, young people in South Africa are increasingly turning to private providers of education and training to prepare and empower themselves for the job market. However – and unfortunately – many of the colleges that claim to provide accredited training and learning opportunities are nothing but fly-by-night institutions, the qualifications of which aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

There are ways to distinguish these bogus institutions of higher learning by paying attention to a few key characteristics. Here’s how to ensure that private colleges and educational institutions are legitimate.

Do your research

Making sure that a private college is legitimate starts by researching the college and making sure it is registered with, and accredited by the relevant bodies.

Firstly, institutions of learning have to be registered with the state in order to legally operate in South Africa.

With regards to private FET colleges, this will be the Department of Higher Education and Training, unless the private college in question offers short courses and skills programmes accredited exclusively by the QCTO, in which case they do not have to register with the Department of Education. Aside from being registered with the appropriate Department of Education, private providers of education and training also have to be accredited with a quality assurance body.

These quality assurance bodies include the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) or the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education or Training (Umalusi).

Make sure that an educational institution is offering accredited programmes by checking whether it is registered with the South African National Qualifications Framework.

The NQF is the national standard of learning achievements used to ascertain the professional qualification a person has. You can do this online by visiting the South African Qualifications Authority’s website. On the SAQA website, hover your mouse over “Services” in the header of the page, and select “List of Accredited Providers” from the drop-down menu. An Excel file, updated with providers that are currently accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards will be downloaded, from where you can search for the name of the institution you’d like to verify.

When visiting the institution, ask to see the certificate or letter, issued by the relevant quality assurance body or the Department of Higher Education and training – by law these verifying documents need to be publicly available.

Sparrow FET College offers various NQF-level programmes – all accredited by quality assurance bodies – that empower our students to thrive in various industries, including construction, engineering, hospitality, manufacturing, education, IT, sports, and business administration. To find out more, or to apply for an accredited programme, contact Sparrow FET College today.


Sparrow welcomes treasured UK partners, Tudor Hall School and Alleyn’s School

Sparrow welcomes treasured UK partners, Tudor Hall School and Alleyn’s School

Sparrow is grateful for the many international partnerships we have, and especially for the partnerships with schools abroad. Two such cherished connections are our relationships with the Tudor Hall School for Girls in Oxfordshire in the UK and Alleyn’s School in Dulwich.

From 21 to 25 October this year, Sparrow Foundation School was lucky enough to play host to five high school learners and two educators from Tudor Hall School, with 19 high school learners and three sports coaches from Alleyn’s School paying a visit on 22 October.

Upon their arrival in the country, the girls and teachers from Tudor Hall spent their first night in South Africa at the Vaal Dam, where they also went on a tour of the Dell Cheetah Centre just outside of Parys in the Free State – this non-profit organisation is focused on the conservation of the fastest land animal.

It was all systems go when our Tudor Hall partners arrived at Sparrow, and they immediately sprung into gear, assisting teachers in our pride and joy – the newly upgraded multi-purpose sensory room.

As October is Healthy Eating Month, the girls and educators, along with the team from Alleyn’s School, incorporated this into their offering to Sparrow’s learners, which included reading and learning about healthy food, and teaching learners how to identify the different food groups. Alleyn’s School prepared 300 delicious cheese and tomato sandwiches for every Sparrow learner, before our music teacher treated them to a proudly South African drumming lesson with the Sparrow learners.

This is not the first time Tudor Hall has contributed to education at Sparrow: aside from consistent financial support, Tudor Hall has also revamped our music room and sponsored a piano, and have also beautified our reading corners. Through the years, Alleyn’s School has also contributed financially towards various projects and improvements at Sparrow. We are immensely grateful for these continued partnerships, which we still treasure as much as we ever have over the years.

We bid our friends from Tudor Hall and Alleyn’s School farewell for now, but look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration!


Sparrow FET success story: Tshepo Mbeazi

Sparrow FET success story: Tshepo Mbeazi

“Sparrow changed my life,” says 25-year-old Sparrow graduate and chef, Tshepo Mbeazi. We were lucky enough to sit down with this aspiring young restaurateur while he was in South Africa on a two-month break, after working on a cruise ship for the past few months.

Tshepo graduated from Sparrow FET College with a Professional Cookery Learnership in 2017, after completing his studies on a Nedbank and Wilmar Fats and Oils-sponsored bursary.

Mastering the craft of cooking seems like it came naturally to Tshepo, who did his practical training at the Sandton Sun Hotel after attaining his NQF Level 4 qualification from Sparrow FET College. Here, Tshepo didn’t rest on his laurels, entering the Chef of the Year competition as a junior chef at the Sandton Sun Hotel. Tshepo was named one of the top 6 finalists in Gauteng, and this taste of success inspired him to apply for a chef position on the cruise ship Norwegian Gateway.

On the ship, Tshepo, along with the other chefs on the ship, was tasked with taking care of the culinary needs of between 4,000 and 5,000 passengers. The Norwegian Gateway started its journey across the ocean in Miami in the US, heading towards Europe, where Tshepo was able to visit Spain, Italy and Greece. Tshepo admits the hours were long but maintains it was all worth it, saying it was “amazing to travel the world”.

Tshepo plans to travel for five more years before returning to his homeland to open a fine dining restaurant of his own – he plans to simply call it FINE.

Loving what you do is paramount for Tshepo, who says, “you must have a passion and love for what you’re going to do”, before deciding on a career. However, Tshepo believes that passion alone is not enough.

“Anything is possible when you believe in yourself and work hard,” says this proud product of Sparrow FET College, adding, “Attitude is the most important quality to achieve success”.

Tshepo, we delight in your continued success, and are excited about what the future holds. With your insatiable appetite for triumph, we are already smacking our lips in anticipation of our first dining experience at FINE.



Sparrow 30 Years: We sit down with founder, Jackie Gallagher

Sparrow 30 Years: We sit down with founder, Jackie Gallagher

In August this year, Sparrow Schools celebrated 30 years of educational excellence. Initially a Saturday School with only four learners, Sparrow is proud of what has been achieved over the past three decades, and excited about what is still to come.

Sparrow’s founder, Jackie Gallagher, is a force of nature in her own right, and has seen Sparrow blossom into the bastion it is today. She kindly answered a few questions, and shared her vision for the future of Sparrow Schools.

1. What were your hopes for Sparrow when you founded the school, and do you think you’ve achieved these aspirations?

When I started the Saturday School, my main aim and hope was to assist children to have access to quality education – I wanted to build a bridge out of the old apartheid system of schooling into an education system that would meet the needs of the neglected child. I feel that my aspirations have been met in ways I never dreamed possible.

2. What are your hopes for the future for Sparrow Schools?

That we would continue to meet the educational needs of the neglected child.

3. What has been the greatest moment you’ve experienced at Sparrow over the past 30 years?

Without a doubt, meeting Nelson Mandela when he visited Sparrow Schools – I was blown away by the greatness and humbleness of him.

4. Are there any learners that stand out in your memory, and why?

So many, and all in different ways. From the child who has achieved on the sports field, to the child who has learnt to read and, of course, all our FET candidates that were previously unemployed who are now employed. However, I must mention Natacia Luthuli, who studied Early Childhood Development, and her incredible passion and enthusiasm for education. She is opening up her second ECD centre in 2020 in Cosmos City – she inspires me!

5. What is the best advice you’d give to Sparrow learners when they embark on their own life journeys after school?

Do the best you can, grab hold of every opportunity given to you, and strive to achieve.


Spring clean and donate unwanted goods to help educate a Sparrow child

Spring clean and donate unwanted goods to help educate a Sparrow child

Spring is in the air, and the time for the season’s customary cleaning routine has arrived with it. This year, we’d like to encourage everyone to put the unwanted goods they decide to get rid of to good use – and donate towards the education of a Sparrow learner while you’re at it.

In this regard, Sparrow has teamed up with Simeon Seara Dube, a Soweto-based jumble shop owner and the father of two learners at Sparrow Foundation School. Operating from a pop-up shop-based set-up, Mr Dube has been able to settle the school fees of his own two children, as well as using the earnings from donated goods to keep an additional four learners in school as well.

Interested parties can drop off unwanted goods at Sparrow Foundation School, from where they will be collected for sale at Mr Dube’s jumble shop in Soweto.

Does the prospect of spring-cleaning seem a little daunting? Why not use the six basic rules of tidying, according to the organising consultant and eponymous star of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo?

1. Commit to tidying up

Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method requires dedication, time and effort. Once you’ve decided to tidy up, follow through.

2. Imagine what you’re ideal lifestyle would be like

Imagine the type of house you’d like to live in, and envision how it would be set up, organised and decorated.

3. Start discarding first

Don’t try to find space for items that should really be discarded. Starting with discarding frees up space that can be put to better use.

4. Don’t tidy by room, tidy by category

Imagine, for example, you are tidying up your closet. Instead of going from room to room and tidying the closets, start by gathering all your clothes in a single location where you can objectively assess how much you have and what needs to go.

5. Tidy in the correct order

Marie Kondo recommends that we follow a certain order while tidying – this helps you to learn how to decide what items to keep, based on whether they “spark joy”, or not. The order you should tidy in, according to the KonMari Method, is clothes > books > papers > miscellaneous items (komono) > sentimental items. The reasoning behind this order is that it’s easier to learn what clothing items to keep, for example, than it is to decide what sentimental items to get rid of. Tidying in this order is also sure to save time.

6. Does it ‘spark joy’?

Marie Kondo recommends that we decide what stays and what goes by deciding whether it sparks joy in us. We can do this by holding the item firmly in both hands. If it sparks joy, says Kondo, you should feel a little thrill, whereas items that don’t spark joy will leave you feeling heavy. If an item does not spark joy, it should be discarded, but not before expressing gratitude for its service.

Whether you use the KonMari Method, or your own, tried-and-trusted tidying shortcuts, please don’t forget to donate anything you aren’t using anymore towards our jumble collection. You’re not just tidying up your space – you’re also building the future of our nation.


16 Days of Activism against GBV: here’s what you can do

16 Days of Activism against GBV: here’s what you can do

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is marked every year to draw the attention to this important social issue, and will be held from 25 November to 10 December 2019.

All over the world, 16 Days will kick off on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will this year be held under the global theme, “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape”.

At home, the objectives of the 16 Days Campaign are to:

– Attract all South Africans to be active participants in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
– Expand accountability beyond the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to include all government clusters and provinces.
– Combine technology, social media, the arts, journalism, religion, culture and customs, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways violence against women and children affects the lives of all people in all communities around the world.
– Ensure mass mobilisation of all communities to promote collective responsibility in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children.
– Encourage society to acknowledge that violence against women and children is NOT a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.
– Emphasise the fact that the solution lies with all of us.

Violence against women and children may take many forms, and can include physical violence (domestic violence and violent crime like assault, rape, robbery and murder), emotional violence, together with the poverty, humiliation, starvation and degradation that many women and children in our country face every day.

If you’re wondering how you can make a contribution to combating these problems in South Africa, you can assist in various ways:

– By wearing a red ribbon for the duration of the 16 days, to show your support and symbolise your commitment to never commit or condone violence against women or children.
– By volunteering your time or showing financial support to NGOs and community groups that support abused women or children.
– By speaking out against the abuse of women and children, and making your concern known by spreading the message on social media.
– By encouraging survivors to talk about their abuse, and helping them to find help.
– By encouraging children to report bullying at school.
– By reporting child abuse to the police.

Sparrow FET College is committed to the fight against gender-based violence, and believes that it will take all our efforts to root out this systemic societal problem completely. Join us in marking this issue from 25 November to 10 December 2019.


5 TED talks that will inspire you before an interview

Brittany Packnett : How to build your confidence – and spark it in others

What TED says: “Confidence is the necessary spark before everything that follows,” says educator and activist Brittany Packnett. In an inspiring talk, she shares three ways to crack the code of confidence – and her dream for a world where revolutionary confidence helps turn our most ambitious dreams into reality.

It is possible to unlock confidence, even when we seem to have lost the key. This inspirational talk by Brittany Packnett will teach you how.

Amy Cuddy: Your body language may shape who you are

What TED says: Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.

The secrets of body language aren’t really secrets at all in this insightful talk by Amy Cuddy.

Regina Hartley: Why the best hire may not have the perfect resume

What TED says: Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the “Scrapper” a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. “Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose,” she says. “Hire the Scrapper.”

Yes, you will be vying for a position among many other people, but what makes you stand out? Is it genuine passion?

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

What TED says: Have you ever felt like you’re talking, but nobody is listening? Here’s Julian Treasure to help. In this useful talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to’s of powerful speaking – from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy. A talk that might help the world sound more beautiful.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, according to the adage. Julian Treasure gives some helpful tips.

Daniel Levitin: How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed

What TED says: You’re not at your best when you’re stressed. In fact, your brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations, inhibiting rational, logical thinking but potentially helping you survive, say, being attacked by a lion. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin thinks there’s a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded – the pre-mortem. “We all are going to fail now and then,” he says. “The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be.”

Don’t let stress get the better of you the next time you go for an interview. Daniel Leveiting has guidelines.