BY: Mpofu Sthandile.

Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) regards youth empowerment as a key imperative in building a sustainable future.

Russell Coleman, VWSA Human Resources Director, said the company understands the challenges which the South African youth are facing and is committed to develop youth and provide them with skills that improve their employability. “I believe if youth is given the opportunity in an environment where they can thrive, they gain confidence to reach success anywhere. It is also a way for us to ensure that we have sufficient skills in our recruitment pool,” said Coleman.

Every year the company hires in-service trainees, graduates in training, artisan apprentices and candidates who participate in the Youth Employment Services programme. These young individuals are trained across the company in their respective career fields.

The commitment to youth development is further extended into the community through the Volkswagen Community Trust which focuses on education, social and creative skills needed by the broader community to empower themselves and their families economically and socially.

Nonkqubela Maliza, VWSA Corporate Affairs and Government Director, said the Volkswagen Community Trust answers the needs of the community in and around Kariega. “Our main focus areas are education and youth development as we believe these are the key drivers to addressing the problem of inequality in South Africa.”

The educational programmes include, among others, additional Mathematics and Science classes and bursaries for high school learners and tertiary students.

At the KwaNobuhle loveLife Y-Centre, the programmes offered aim to empower and inspire youth with life skills which promote positive lifestyles. Programmes include computer literacy, sport, leadership training and development and a community radio station which is run by youth. “The multi-purpose recreation youth centre reaches at least 200 youth per day and reaches out to 20 schools in the area,” said Maliza.

Recently the company also launched the Work Readiness and Placement Programme which aims to bridge the gap between unemployed youth and companies in the value chain that seek to employ youth. Training of youth takes place at the KwaNobuhle- loveLife Y-Centre and at the Afrika Tikkun Service Centre in Randburg, Gauteng.

“The key objectives of the programme is to equip work-seekers with the competencies and skills required to be successful in the workplace. Young people often lack experience in work etiquette. Our programme seeks to empower them with skills to overcome this and breeds confidence they require to excel in their jobs,” said Maliza.

Since the establishment of the Volkswagen Community Trust in 1989, more than R200 million has been invested in community programmes.


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