Recipes for success

Alison Zweers (HR Director for SPAR Lowveld) and Riaan Oosthuizen

To celebrate Youth Month, the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT) – in partnership with SPAR Lowveld in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga – launched the SPAR Siyapheka Kitchen skills training project with the aim to plough skills back into local communities.

SPAR is sponsoring a group of youths to receive appropriate skills within the food retail industry. Through this partnership, unemployed young people will be assisted to gain lifelong skills but, more specifically, three aspiring young chefs will be given the opportunity to realise their dreams.

A group of 24 young men and women will be awarded with a full sponsorship to obtain Skills Programme Certificates to become assistant chefs. The sponsorship will cover their tuition fees in full, including uniforms. The beneficiaries will spend six months at the MRTT Hospitality Academy, and practical training will be undertaken in SPAR stores.

This is a story of young South Africans preparing themselves to play a more meaningful role in the development of our country. The project prepares young minds not only to be employable but also to be entrepreneurs themselves.

Potential beneficiaries went through a rigorous screening process that involved an interview and skills assessment.

MRTT used registers collected through the various school visits and career exhibitions as backup data on the targeted areas. Community members are thus encouraged to support MRTT exhibitions, as they bring the MRTT closer to their training needs.

Most of the selected beneficiaries come from communities that are in need of financial assistance and have demonstrated a strong passion for cooking. On completion of the project, successful candidates will be marketed to SPAR stores to enhance their chances of gaining meaningful employment. 

Riaan Oosthuizen, General Manager: Hospitality and Tourism for the MRTT, told Achiever it has become important that businesses support appropriate training and skills development programmes, as training increases the sense of ownership of employees.

“Employees become more productive, flexible and organised and are more successful in meeting internal and external customer demands. New skills empower staff and increase their efficiency.

“As the pace of innovation accelerates, companies look to expand their operations and offerings, and thus putting pressure on employees to acquire specialised skills. The workplace is becoming more transient, mobile and self-serving.

Organisations are embracing these changes by rethinking how they operate to align with business and specially consumer needs and demands,” according to Oosthuizen.

He said that when a company has a flexible but structured approach to training and development, employees and future employees can develop their skills, ambitions, passions and leadership ability by participating in these programmes.

“In analyses of the youth of 2014, defined as generation Y, these youth will put training and development very high on their requirement list to apply to companies and in the decision-making process to accept a work offer.”

Oosthuizen said companies need to have a strategic plan that links, integrates and co-ordinates plans and takes into account the proposals of long- and medium-term goals. They have to align resources and capacity, and link it to budget processes.

His advice to companies that have not yet integrated effective training as part of their business plan or strategy, is to relook their vision, mission and goals immediately and link a training strategy to these. “A SWOT analysis (of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) can indicate training needs and assist with regaining or increasing market share, profitability, productivity and staff morale.”

According to him, the main mistake companies make is to cut the training budget, as it influences the development of staff directly and indirectly, thus influencing retracting and retaining efficient staff, which leads to poor service delivery and quality of work produced.

Asked whether government and the private sector are doing enough to attract the right skills, Oosthuizen replied: “No. When positions are advertised, many requirements are listed but the requirements are overshadowed by internal company politics, external policies and mandates. If politics are adhered to first, then the hard requirements e.g. qualifications, experience and skills, are seen as minor to these.”

Zanele Khoza


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This edition

Issue 58