Nineteen JumpStart Pre-production graduates celebrated the start of their careers at the recent awards ceremony.
Nineteen JumpStart Pre-production graduates celebrated the start of their careers at the recent awards ceremony.

WINNING SMILES: Top clothing graduate Nonkululeko Mazibuko stands with Natasja Ambrosio, Director of the MRP Foundation and top footwear graduate Nonsikelelo Ninela. PICTURE PIERRE TOSTEE / MRP FOUNDATION

 

Nineteen excited young graduates ushered in a new chapter of their careers at the second annual MRP Foundation JumpStart Pre-production Graduation held at the Breakers Hotel in Umhlanga on November 26. The MRP Foundation,  Mr Price Group executives, partners, strategic suppliers and family all celebrated their graduates’ success applauding their hard work, big dreams and pursuit of lifelong learning.

The JumpStart Manufacturing Pre-Production programme, co-created and funded by MRP Foundation, strategic suppliers and Mr Price Group, offers unemployed youth a “jumpstart” in life by providing life skills, hands-on experience and critical skills development in the footwear and clothing manufacturing sectors in five KwaZulu-Natal factories.

The ten-month intensive practical and theoretical course bridges the gap between tertiary education and the manufacturing industry, covering everything from pattern-making, designing, costing, merchandising to planning for production, to essentially create a more employable graduate.

At the awards evening Natasja Ambrosio, Director of the MRP Foundation, shared how, “at the heart of what the MRP Foundation does  – to take youth on a journey out of the poverty cycle. For ten years we’ve been working at creating an environment that unlocks talent, builds sustainable programmes and develops skills. Through this programme, we are able to show young people that we believe in them and give them hope.”

This innovative programme is not only about empowering youth to reach for their dreams but energising the local manufacturing industry, something Shaun Gannon from B&M Analysts shared his expertise on. As the implementation partner for the programme, Shaun explained how the young and ambitious graduates are now empowered and able to be part of an exciting journey of creating a strong and competitive supply base for local retailers. This ultimately means fashioning a stronger and more capable South Africa.

The top five achievers all proudly walked away with a job and certificate in hand, proof of their academic results and honourable work ethic. They were: Natasha Pillay (Celrose Clothing), Bongiwe Mpanza (Eddels Shoes), Sanele Nkwanyana (Eddels Shoes), top clothing graduate Nonkululeko Mazibuko (Celrose Clothing) and top footwear graduate Nonsikelelo Ninela (Eddels Shoes).

The overall footwear winner, Nonsikelelo Ninela, was overcome with emotion with her first place. The twenty-six-year-old Pietermaritzburg graduate said:

“I loved everything about my internship at Eddels Shoes and would love to one day specialise in designing ladies shoes. For me, every day was a learning day.”

Back from her prize of a dream internship with UK designer Henry Holland, last year’s clothing winner, Wendy Vukeka, shared some workplace pearls of wisdom with the graduates as they embarked on their new careers:

“The London learning journey opened my eyes to fashion and life experiences. It encouraged me to grab any opportunity with both hands, and always work hard because dedication does pay off.”

With the toolset of vital skills and a hopeful attitude, these graduates have a promising future ahead of them. After all, the pre-production course is just a stepping stone to their dreams.