Over 1 100 youth aspiring to become nurses or pharmacist’s assistants, among other career opportunities offered, have enrolled on Netcare’s Youth Employment Service (YES) programme. The first phase of a youth skills development, entrepreneurship and employment hub is furthermore in full swing this Youth Month in Alexandra, Johannesburg, following its official opening last month.
“Young people are our country’s hope for addressing the skills crisis and our most promising asset for achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth. All they need are to be given opportunities, and this is where Netcare is striving to make a difference,” says Dr Nceba Ndzwayiba, director: human resources and transformation at Netcare.
Netcare is one of five corporate anchor partners of the government’s YES initiative, which President Cyril Ramaphosa launched on 27 March 2018 to help address South African youth unemployment and promote inclusive economic growth through skills development and work experience that will enable young people to participate meaningfully in the economy, and contribute to its growth.
The private healthcare company committed to offering formal structured vocational training programmes that are linked to career opportunities for 1 000 young people, as well as establishing a multi-million rand youth development, entrepreneurial and employment community hub, named the Netcare Ulusha Hub, for township youth in Alexandra.
“We have now exceeded our target and we have 1 123 young people enrolled on our Netcare YES vocational programmes, which provide education, training and work experience within various operations in the Netcare Group. Importantly, it comes with a commitment by Netcare to offer permanent employment to those who successfully complete their learnerships, internships and experiential learning programmes,” says Sanjay Khoosal, Netcare’s head of people development and employment equity.
In addition to the track record of producing high quality nursing graduates through Netcare Education’s Faculty of Nursing and Ancillary Healthcare, Netcare has a strong culture of investing in human resource development, and has for many years, offered vocational training opportunities for young people – not forgetting persons with disabilities – through various learnerships and internships, and has built a solid track record in this regard.
Jennifer Rasekhula, who currently holds the position of client service consultant within Netcare’s diagnostic division, had been unemployed for six months when she heard about Netcare’s YES programme and successfully applied for an internship.
“I was always hopeful and worked hard but never knew I would go this far,” says the 26-year-old. “For 18 months I studied through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College’s Financial Management Programme, which has both theory and practical elements.
“After I got my diploma in financial management, Netcare gave me the chance to study for my certificates in Basics of Stores and Stock Control (BSSC), which lasted another six months, and on completion of the certificate and my 18 months internship programme I was offered permanent employment.
“Personally, I feel I have grown a lot too. Since I started at Netcare in January 2019, I have learnt a lot. This was my first work environment, and yet I was not treated as a learner, I was trusted with responsibility. At first I was anxious about going into meetings with my manager, but experience has built my confidence and now I am looking forward to the next steps in my career,” Rasekhula says.
She is one of 332 young people who have successfully completed their vocational programmes with Netcare since the company committed in May 2018 to participate in the YES programme, 96% of whom are now permanently employed, most within Netcare.
“The types of training we have prioritised in these programmes directly relate to the skills shortages that are sorely needed within the South African healthcare sector, and most of these formal qualifications take two to three years to complete. During this time the individuals receive a stipend for their living expenses, and once qualified, most candidates achieve registration or accreditation with the relevant councils or professional bodies,” Khoosal adds.
“The candidates are developed in sought-after fields, ready to take up a career at Netcare or other opportunities within the broader healthcare sector. They are not held to any work-back penalties if they opt for employment elsewhere. Our approach is intended to support the South African Human Resource Development Strategy 2030 and the National Skills Development Strategy III, while also fulfilling our Group’s human resources strategy.
“Our programmes have been designed to help ensure young people are equipped with quality skills and experience that are relevant to the industry needs, leading to fruitful careers. This structure also, importantly, helps to promote job security and career progression over the longer-term in key areas that are crucial to the sustainability of South African healthcare,” Khoosal explains.
Due to financial constraints, Thapelo Motaung was unable to complete a level three engineering qualification. With no formal qualification to his name, Thapelo struggled to find employment until he got a job as a cleaner at Netcare Linksfield Hospital. “I was encouraged to apply, and was accepted on the Basic Pharmacy Assistant Programme. From that moment my life changed, and after completing the first programme, I was enrolled on the more advanced Pharmacy Post Basic Programme.”
Unlike during his engineering studies, he received a stipend and salary while participating in the Netcare YES programme.
“As part of the practical work experience, I started working in theatre and I am now permanently employed as a theatre stock admin clerk, although I am still enhancing my career. As a father of two daughters, I am able to provide for them better, thanks to this opportunity,” Motaung says.
Nosipho Nhlumayo, an admin assistant at Netcare’s head office, is one of the 92 young people with disabilities who participated in Netcare’s YES programme as part of Netcare’s long-established Sinako Learnership, which has enrolled over 200 candidates since 2012. “I had been sitting at home unemployed for six months, and I was quite despondent until a friend of mine suggested I apply for the programme,” Nhlumayo recalls.
“I was 29 when I was accepted and enrolled on the learnership, and I never could have imagined I would come this far – I’ve surprised myself. Now I have my business administration level four qualification, as well as practical work experience, and I’ve been permanently employed as an administrative assistant at Netcare head office in the corporate social investment department. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity, which has made me a breadwinner for my two kids and shifted my mindset as to what I can achieve,” she says.
In order to reach and empower more young people, Netcare recently launched an entrepreneurial development and employment hub at Alex Mall for the youth in the Alexandra community.
The Netcare Ulusha Hub’s phase 1 development, undertaken in association with YES4Youth, focuses on helping young people to enter the job market. Those registered with the hub have opportunities to enter the job market by either earning while they learn a skill, creating their own entrepreneurial businesses or learning skills that will make them more marketable to employers.
“Bringing the youth into the economy will not only help create a brighter future for the direct beneficiaries and their families, it is also a step towards bridging the wider problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality in our society,” Dr Ndzwayiba says.
“Youth Month reminds us that the power and energy of young people can change the course of history. Our shared future depends on creating sustainable inclusive opportunities to address youth unemployment and building the skills our country needs to succeed for generations to come.”