South Africa Investing More On Producing Graduates Of Tomorrow

“The world can only prosper if there are dedicated efforts to invest in the youth.” these are the words of President Jacob Zuma, speaking earlier this year at the Commonwealth Conference on Education and Training of Youth Workers.

According to the South African Graduate Recruiters Association 2013 survey, employers continue to strive for new and engaging ways to interact with students in an effort to create a dialogue with students and to help them understand the opportunities on offer.

Suncoast Casino, Hotels & Entertainment (SUNCOAST) believes in the same sentiment echoed by President Jacob Zuma. As one of the Casino and Entertainment properties in the Tsogo Sun group, this local entertainment destination is tackling youth unemployment through sustainable opportunities like their graduate programme and learnerships.

“We want to grow and if possible retain our graduates”, says Tracy Borland, the Recruitment Manager at SUNCOAST. Speaking on the success of the graduate programme, Tracy said, “We currently retain 50-60% of our graduates, the rest cannot be retained only because there are no internal vacancies at that time”. Tracy is responsible for the overall external recruitment of employees into SUNCOAST. “We are passionate and very hands-on with the graduates, ensuring that they develop the necessary skills needed in the workplace”.

Furthermore, the graduate programme which started in 2006, is now open for applications. No previous work experience relating directly to a qualification is required, just a Matric (NQF 4) and a Diploma or Degree in the fields of Human Resources (HR), Information Technology (IT), Finance, Marketing, Technical (Electronic Diplomas) and Maintenance (Technical Trade Subjects).

Nirodh Gareed, a former student on the graduate programme, is now permanently employed as a manager within the finance department. He attributes his success within the company to his attitude and willingness to learn. Nirodh had only served a six month period on the programme when an internal post became available. He applied and was chosen to fill the post. He has never looked back.

“When I ventured into the working world, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the SUNCOAST Graduate programme. On my first day, I knew I was involved with an exceptional and dynamic organization. I have worked in various facets of finance ranging from primary document control to the complexities of reporting”, says Nirodh.

Whilst the graduate programme is beneficial to youth whom have obtained qualifications, SUNCOAST has also embraced the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) prerequisites. These include affording candidates with disabilities an opportunity to apply.

In addition, one of the current graduate programme beneficiaries in the Human Resources department, Slindile Ngobese, is a true success story. Slindile is qualified with a Bachelors Degree in Social Science and an honours degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal but has spent the past three years as an unemployed graduate because of the lack of her work experience.

“I ended up applying for a call centre position because I needed to do something. Companies want work experience that I didn’t have.” says Slindile, who will soon be pursuing a Deloitte Certified course to improve her interviewing skills.

With the current economic setbacks where the youth face high unemployment, SUNCOAST has shown its commitment to affording applicants with a fair opportunity to gain work place experience.

And while South Africa’s youth are thriving in opportunities to study and receive qualifications that offer a promise for a better future, the challenge still lies in getting the much needed work experience that employers look for.

There are still a large percentage of graduates that contribute to the unemployment rate of South Africa and this can be attributed to the lack of employment opportunities.

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