50 Jump Start Production Graduates unlock their true potential
Fifty unemployed young people joyfully celebrated their career start as multi-skilled machinists at the MRP Foundation’s Jump Start Production Graduation at the Breakers Resort in Umhlanga on 23 March 2018. Through the work readiness programme 39 of the 50 graduates have already been employed at various footwear and clothing manufacturing firms around Durban.
Developed with an industry perspective, the MRP Foundation’s Production Programme is a holistic five-month practical course to becoming a multi-skilled machine operator. Unemployed youth are empowered with critical manufacturing skills, as well as in valuable workplace attitudes, to help them become more employable in the retail production environment for industries such as footwear, clothing and home textiles.
The fifty excited young graduates were offered a stipend during their work experience which they completed at manufacturing firms in KwaZulu-Natal: ZA Gear, Labora Shoes and Celrose. At the upbeat graduation, twenty-nine-year-old Pamela Ngcobo proudly spoke on behalf of her class about their worthwhile learning experience at Labora Shoes in Chatsworth, Durban.
“We are filled with gratitude for being given this opportunity to be part of the footwear industry. It has been quite a journey but we are humbled and ecstatic that MRP Foundation, together with Labora Shoes, saw the potential to change our lives. Most of us came with no knowledge of shoemaking and what it takes to make a great quality shoe. Thank you to everyone who invested in us to help us get to where we are today. We will make you proud by making exceptional products, staying true to all that we have learned and being the best we can be.”
Nkosisiphile Vilakazi, a Marketing Graduate, spent her time learning at ZA Gear Clothing, encouraged the other graduates with her heartfelt speech at the momentous occasion:
“We can gladly say aloud, and to the world, that this programme has opened our eyes and led us to an environment of great opportunities. It showed us that the clothing industry is a great business opportunity and we’ve been able to upskill ourselves and learnt the importance of lean manufacturing, keeping our workstation clean and work ethics. This is an entry point and we must be proud of where we come from and we want to go. Whatever industry you’re in, know that you are important. Perseverance is the mother of success.”
Karen Wells, Head of MRP Foundation, felt both privileged and proud to be part of graduates’ career journey and wished them well in the next chapter of that journey, “As a youth development organisation we believe we’re building strong foundations in our youth and helping them take their first step of their career journey. This is only the start and your entry point is not your exit point.”
Not only does the work readiness programme assist young people to take a step towards employment, but local manufacturers benefit from having a skilled talent pool to source potential employees from. Through empowering youth with scarce critical skills and linking them to job opportunities, MRP Foundation is passionately working towards breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality in South Africa.