Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief


Go for Gold

A golden model of organizational partnership in a youth empowerment programme

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Facilitate access to educational opportunities | 9 February, 2014 - 08:00

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Project context

Go for Gold was started in 1999 by the CEO of the NMC Construction Group. The organization provides immediate skills and capacity development for the building industry and seeks to facilitate longer-term efforts to achieve employment equity targets, significant Black advancement, and ultimately, meaningful growth of the economy. Go for Gold is committed to supporting the economic development of South Africa by empowering, skilling and developing young people, assisting them to realise their potential and providing employment opportunities and, in so doing, contributing towards initiatives that alleviate the impact of poverty. The Go for Gold organization identifies talented young people at school level, and provides them with academic support, whilst fostering their interest in the built environment. It also has a one-year internship programme that places high-school graduates in an industry job.

The leaders of Go for Gold have come to realise that their programme’s greatest strength is the well-established partnerships with the other organizations in the corporate world. This learning brief underscores the importance of these partnerships and the need to nurture them in order to help facilitate job-placement and training for young people. In this learning brief, the Go for Gold team share their experienced-based lessons on how to establish and maintain organization-to-organization partnerships.

 

Lessons on how to establish and maintain organization-to-organization partnerships

Step 1: When soliciting a new partnership, approach the ‘right’ person in the organization.

When first trying to establish a partnership with an organization that will host the young learners and interns, it is important to get buy-in from people within the organization who have decision-making power. In other words, talk to the ‘right’ person. This person will vary from one company to the next but it is best to rely on reliable recommendations from one “big guy”. We have found that our own organization directors usually know who the important decision makers in other organizations are and they provide good recommendations on who to approach first. Usually, these people are senior directors in their respective companies.

Step 2: The partnership has to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved.

Our relationship with our partner companies is not based on Corporate Social Investment (CSI) handouts. Instead, we provide each of our partner organizations with a tailor made path to employment equity, ways to achieve their equity scorecard commitments, and a strategy to engage in low risk recruitment. These companies help us host interns and young learners and by doing so they benefit from low-risk recruitment, whilst we guarantee to provide high quality students. It’s a win-win situation.

Step 3: The decision makers need to be convinced of the value of the programme, but CSI and HR representatives also need to be part of the process.

Funding for our programme usually comes from the CSI and training budgets of a partner company. Thus it is important to not only get buy-in from the key decision maker in the organization, but also to get support from the CSI and training departments. In addition, make sure that people in the HR unit understand your programme, and get them to commit to the larger objective of moulding future employees.

Step 4: Tailor your training to serve the industry interests.

The Human Resource Advisory Forum serves a vital role in helping us tailor our student-training programme to best serve the needs of our industry partners. The HR managers of the participating companies serve on this body and make sure that the programme remains responsive to the needs of the industry at all times. Their input influences our initial selection criteria of students and shapes our approach to the grooming of these participants for entry into the industry. We have to be demand driven so that our students remain highly suitable and sought after.

Step 5: It is essential to provide all partners with supporting documentation to validate the scorecard and tax benefits.

Our partners benefit from training and taking on the young interns. They gain tax benefits as well as improving their equity scorecard. But in order to enable these benefits the correct supporting documents have to be available and in perfect order. This includes SARS Section 18A documentation, a valid BEE certificate, and affidavits as to the racial distribution of the beneficiaries. The sponsored individual’s identity documents are often required as well. Be prepared to supply these documents and help partner organizations access them as needed.

Step 6: Uphold your end of the partnership and produce high-quality interns.

We remain committed to ensuring that the learners and interns in our programme (the main beneficiaries) maintain high working standards and professionalism. All participants who enter companies, including the post matric interns and learners on school holiday site visits, have to maintain impeccable standards of performance and behaviour. They are the “brand” which attracts the investors. Our partner companies want to know that they are making a good long-term investment and so we recruit committed, responsible students.

 

Conclusion

By following these six steps other organizations can improve their partnerships and collaborative networks. We have also found that in these organization-to-organization partnerships it is important to remain impartial at all times. These partner companies are sometimes competitors for tenders but it is in our best interests that they support us wholeheartedly without any rivalry. We thus have to be transparent in all our dealings with companies and have to be absolutely impartial. This is sometimes very difficult. 

Finally, we have also found that partnering with smaller companies is more fruitful because they often have an easier chain of command. With smaller companies it is possible to get all the decision makers into one room and have a decision within a short space of time. We have also found that sizable financial commitments have come from relatively smaller companies.

The Construction Industry has taken ownership of the Go for Gold initiative. We are seen as an industry project. Apart from financial contributions we have access to a huge range of facilities and services from these corporate partners. We in turn, supply the organizations with motivated, committed young trainees who are a great resource for their employers and assets in South Africa’s growing economy.

 

Go for Gold


PO Box 18526Cape TownWynbergSouth Africa


 021 703 0395


In Short

This learning brief highlights the importance of organization-to-organization partnerships in youth training programmes. It suggests six steps to take when establishing organizational partnerships that will ensure that all stakeholders benefit, and that the programme reaches its objectives.


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