Woolies pushes retail skills development

28 March 2011

Thirty-nine previously unemployed youngsters graduated from Woolworths Growth Academy this month, receiving an executive education certificate from the highly regarded University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development Ltd.

Launched in 2010, the project is a 12-18 month career development initiative aimed at previously disadvantaged graduates, selected from both internal and external candidates.

Those being selected for the programme are given the opportunity to earn wide-ranging work experience at Woolworths.

The project is co-funded by Woolworths and the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta); and Woolworths plans to offer some, if not all, of the candidates selected for the academy full-time employment.

“This is one of the most successful projects that we have been a part of; the quality of the project coupled with the 95% plus completion rate makes it exceptional,” Wholesale and Retail Seta CEO Joel Dikgole said in a statement earlier this month. “Woolworths Growth Academy proves that public-private partnerships can help to tackle South Africa’s skills shortage.”

Mentoring by industry experts

Growth Academy trainees are mentored by leading industry experts and are empowered to develop solutions to real-life business challenges.

While spending time at Woolworths Supply Chain division, trainee Siyabulela Godwana was part of a group that investigated water conservation opportunities at the retailer’s Montague Gardens Distribution Centre. Godwana’s team presented recommendations that included the introduction of water efficient toilet facilities – which the distribution centre is strongly considering.

“I was intimidated by the prospect of working across a range of business units,” Godwana said. “Especially because I didn’t know anything about retail and I had no corporate work experience.

“However with the help of our mentors and fellow trainees, I ended up thoroughly enjoying my time in the Growth Academy. I’ve grown in confidence as a person, and I truly believe I can achieve my career goals.”

Equipping sustainable organisations

The University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development Ltd (USB-ED), the public executive development company within the University of Stellenbosch Business School, aims to equip transformational leaders and sustainable organisations through uniquely designed interventions and applied research.

It offers high-quality open enrolment programmes cover a spectrum of comprehensive management and leadership programmes, as well as discipline-specific and industry-specific programmes. In addition, companies may also opt to have open programmes presented in-house to their own staff.

“Our institution is proud to be associated with this programme,” said USB-ED executive Heilet Bertrand. “Of course, we’re delighted with the superb performance of this Growth Academy class.”

SAinfo reporter

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