17 November, 2017
Skills training programmes for unemployed youth to be expanded
Mabhuti Dasi says the MTO Skills Program was life changing and opened up job
Following a successful programme of
training undereducated young people in the
Southern Cape, the MTO Forestry Group is now rolling out its training
programmes for the unemployed youth to different geographical regions and
MTO's involvement in training unemployed youth
started three years ago in the Southern Cape, where the company manages 50 000
hectares of forest plantations and which is also home to the MTO Training
Academy Concordia in Knysna. The academy is a highly accredited facility where
thousands of MTO employees are annually trained.
"Employment prospects are bleak for undereducated,
unskilled and inexperienced youth in South Africa's economic environment. So, we decided to expand our training
to those young people, with the goal of providing them with skills that will
allow them to compete in the job market. Our only real requirement is that they
are motivated to work hard and be committed," says Yvonne van Romburgh,
Business Manager at the MTO Training Academy Concordia.
The programmes are completely free for the
trainees, with MTO absorbing all costs. Learners also receive a stipend each
month, protective clothing and equipment, and like the rest of MTO's employees,
a nutritional breakfast cereal each morning.
Dasi, who grew up near Knysna, was one of the first recruits in 2015. "I got
lucky when MTO brought out the programme of training," he says. "But I was
scared they wouldn't take me. I had no skills and only completed Grade 8."
one of twenty-seven learners completed the first Skills Programme for the
Unemployed, which focused on General Forestry Skills, in 2015/16.
twenty-seven learners received certificates for completing their course. "Coming
from an accredited training institution, these are valuable. When they finished
the training, graduates were also assisted in compiling a proper application
package, including a CV, and were supported in their job search," says Van
the heels of the first year's success MTO expanded the Skills Programme to
focus on different geographical regions and associated industries. Last year it
launched a Harvesting Skills programme, recruiting from communities in and
around the plantations surrounding George.
Each Skills Programme runs for three months, with
learners gaining both theoretical knowledge in the classroom and practical
experience from the mill. The specific training courses vary, based on the
industry being targeted.
The current 2017 cohort of learners is mid-way through their training in
Sawmill Skills at the George Saw Mill under the watchful eye of Facilitator
Gabriel Lategan from MTO Training Academy Concordia.
"They are learning everything they need to get an
entry-level job at a saw mill. I have high expectations, but also high hopes for
them. My aim is 100% employment for them," he says.
to Van Romburgh the company's current budget includes one Skills Programme
annually, but MTO considers running two or more. "At this point it is unclear
where the next programme will be located, but we are considering MTO's White
River plantations in Mpumalanga."
While MTO hopes to be able to offer jobs to all
graduates, the goal is to provide training that allows them to get jobs
elsewhere in the industry, or in related fields.
"What we really want for our graduates is
employment. We hope that they apply for jobs within MTO, but we understand it isn't
always feasible. Even a job at a competitor is considered a victory by MTO," Van
George Saw Mill, MTO Training Facilitator Gabriel
Lategan with learners
Nomulelo Mhlaba and Nolusindo
Jansen, a trainee, sees himself in five years
time as a manager at MTO.
MTO Skills Programme Trainees at the George Saw
Mill. They share a commitment and motivation to
Source: MTO Group
Funeka Mhayi-Mhayi is grateful for the opportunity to learn.