Professional Retail Programme graduates celebrate the end of one journey – and the beginning of another.

2021 Professional Retail Programme students celebrate their graduation

© Mr Price Foundation / Pierre Tostee

Congratulations to our JumpStart Professional Retail Programme (PRP) graduates who persevered through major challenges in 2021 to complete their studies.

The graduates were honoured with a celebration on 1 December at Fairway Guest House in Durban, attended by retailers and employer partners, parents and Mr Price Foundation staff. 

“This is a huge achievement. It has been a tough year where students had to deal with Covid-19, unrest and looting. Throughout it all, they were resilient and bounced back. We are proud to be celebrating their achievements.  Their journeys start here – and we look forward to seeing where they’ll go,” said Karen Wells, Head of Mr Price Foundation. 

Developed by industry for industry, the PRP blends classroom and workplace learning. 

“Our graduates learn a unique set of skills. They are put in a pressure cooker and have experienced facilitators to mentor and coach them. They come away understanding the full value chain. This is a critical and in-demand skill in South Africa,” says Karen.

The PRP bridges the gap between graduating and entering the workforce. As a result, our graduates are retail-ready. They are well-equipped for junior positions in buying, planning and store management and can add real value in the workplace from day one.

The nine PRP graduates are: Tebogo Magano (Soweto), Welile Ndaba (Estcourt), Ngako Phala (Johannesburg), Thandolwethu Msweli (Umlazi),  Mlamuli Ntombela (Ntuzuma), Puleng Nxumalo (Harrismith), Vuyani Mkhize (Durban), Mbekezeli Mirazi (Umlazi) and Yamkela Vili (Diepsloot). They all performed exceptionally well in the theory component, scoring between 81% and 86%. 

The PRP isn’t just about succeeding academically. Graduates are put through their paces in real life work situations to test their work ethic, attitude and commitment to the course and their career.  

Top three award winners

Three graduates received special mention: Thandolwethu Msweli, Ngako Phala and Tebogo Magano.

Thandolwethu won the Cutting Edge Award. With her high academic achievements and positive attitude, she’s a radiant example of a successful and cutting-edge retail professional. 

Ngako won the Hanging in There Award, for stepping outside her comfort zone and showing great determination and perseverance to complete the internship with flying colours.

The Best Fit Award went to Tebogo. Retail is a tough industry which requires long hours and resolving challenges on many fronts. It requires passion and commitment – and Tebogo is well matched with his energy and sheer enthusiasm.

Professional Retail Programme top three graduates and keynote speakers

Enjoying the good times (from left): Head of Mr Price Foundation Karen Wells, Hanging in There Award winner Ngako Phala, The Robin Hood Foundation founder Cindy Norcott, Best Fit Award winner Tebogo Magano, Cutting Edge Award winner Thandolwethu Msweli, and head of JumpStart Yurissa Sawers. © Mr Price Foundation / Pierre Tostee

Keynote speaker

In her keynote speech, The Robin Hood Foundation founder Cindy Norcott encouraged graduates to go the extra mile and always give of their best.

“South Africa has the most amazing opportunities to change lives. Mr Price Foundation has changed lives with this internship. There will be ripple effects into your communities, your families and your careers. Remember, sometimes you can’t pay it back. You have to pay it forward. The arc of the world bends towards justice so when you do the right thing, beautiful things happen,” said Cindy.

The evening also highlighted the strategic importance of the PRP to industry and JumpStart’s employer partners. It seeks to address critical skills gaps in the retail sector, developing a skilled talent pool for our employer partners.

“We have had to deal with a lot of curveballs: covid and looting, which even affected the stores where graduates spent time. Yet our partners stayed the course. This is partnership in action. We can’t do this alone. We thank everyone for making this journey so special for graduates,” added Karen.

PRP student Mbeki Mirazi, from Umlazi, thanked Mr Price Foundation for the opportunity. 

“What really sets this programme apart is the flexible skills, social skills and emotional skills you learn. We work with amazing facilitators and a hard-working group of individuals. It was really tough from day one. We had to brace ourselves but they always gave us their unwavering support. With the right mindset and a lot of hard work, the sky’s the limit,” Mbeki said.