Friday, 03 August 2012

160 Gauteng youngsters graduate from Retail Relate’s Unemployed Youth Assistance Programme

Written by

All NQF Level 5 trainees offered jobs in retail sector
 
Retail training provider Retail Relate today celebrates the resounding success of its Unemployed Youth Assistance Programme (UYAP) and the formal graduation of its 160 trainees.
 
Retail Relate provides W&RSETA accredited and funded retail training to matriculants who sometimes qualify for tertiary training but are hindered by financial constraints. In March last year, 196 unemployed young adults from Gauteng were selected to participate in the year long programme, which included theoretical training as well as internships at Retail Relate’s retail partners.
 
The students are now graduating with NQF Five qualifications, which will equip them to fill junior management posts as a start to a career in retail. Many of the graduates have already been offered jobs by retail groups.
 
“The extremely high retention rate of the UYAP and the personal and professional development of these youngsters within a year is particularly gratifying,” said Leigh Blochlinger, who heads up Retail Relate. “We see this as a step towards rectifying the huge skills shortages prevalent in the retail sector.”
 
A recent report on the critical skills shortage by the Wholesale and Retail SETA has indicated that there is a shortage of 42 000 retail managers. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that close to 88 percent of the retail workforce, are under qualified, with education levels equivalent to matric or below.
 
In particular, companies are struggling to source adequately qualified and trained mid-level managers. About 70 percent of the jobs advertised require skilled and senior labour, while only 44.61 percent of potential career seekers represent the demanded skills. In addition, the demand for entry level and junior staff is very low, yet these positions would be the only option for those with a matric certificate or less.
 
“We were also so impressed at how well the students adapted to the culture and environment of the retail sector,” Blochlinger added. “Coming from rural or informal areas, it was quite a culture shock to them, but they quickly learnt how to function in a much more corporate environment.”
 
The UYAP was financed by the Wholesale and Retail SETA’s skills levy fund, currently estimated to be around R350-million. “The UYAP was an extremely worthwhile investment and the outstanding level of follow through by the youngsters is a testament to the commitment by all involved parties,” said Joel Dikgole, chief executive officer of the Wholesale and Retail SETA.
 
“These include Retail Relate and its high quality of training, the retailers who made the effort to mentor their interns as well as the students themselves, who did their utmost to make the most of this opportunity,” Dikgole said.
 
“We were particularly impressed with the inclusion of the learnership aspect into this comprehensively crafted programme,” Dikgole added. “The practical workplace experience gained through the internships is particularly important for the retail sector and complements the theoretical training, which will provide a sound foundation for successful careers.”
 
Among the retailers that participated in the UYAP offering the learners vital workplace experience are: The Essential Hardware Group, AutoZone, The Cambridge Group, Hoxies Foods, TWK and The Foshini Group (TFG).
 
The students received some of their theoretical training at Heronbridge Retreat, which since the beginning of this year, has been Retail Relate’s centre for excellence. Students of Retail Relate’s sister programme, the Rural Youth Project,  are also receiving some of their training here and the rest of it in their home environments situated throughout the country.
 
For more information on the UYAP and Retail Relate’s other retail training programmes, visit www.retailrelate.co.za.

Published in Science and Education