As we commemorate Youth Month, Netcare, South Africa’s largest private hospital group, primary care network and medical emergency services provider, remains committed to the empowerment and advancement of young South Africans.
Unemployment among young South Africans has risen significantly over the past six years. According to the latest figures by Statistics SA in a report on national and provincial labour market trends among the youth, the unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 34 increased from 32.7% to 36.1% between 2008 and 2014. “This upswing in youth unemployment is particularly worrying,” notes Peter Warrener, human resources director at Netcare.
As part of the effort to address the soaring rates of youth unemployment, Netcare participates in a number of youth empowerment programmes, which aim to actively develop the skills of young people in order to improve their employment prospects and give them a fair chance at participating in the South African economy.
The group invests significantly in education and training, as well as in corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives. A current CSI youth empowerment project, undertaken in conjunction with Vuma 103FM, will give 12 young South Africans, who come from communities which experience challenges but have excelled academically, the chance to intern at Netcare facilities in the KwaZulu-Natal region from 30 June to 6 July. This holiday internship programme will expose the successful candidates to a wide variety of careers available at Netcare, ranging from emergency medical services, dietetics, nursing, pharmacy, clinical engineering, finance and administration, human resources, information technology as well as marketing and communications.
“Netcare supports equal opportunities to all young South Africans, including those with disabilities which may have held them back from reaching their full potential,” asserts Warrener.
As a result, in 2012 Netcare introduced the Sinako programme which assists individuals with disabilities who have not completed Grade 12, or do not have a post-Grade 12 qualification, to become more employable through structured internships and learnerships. “Young people with disabilities often do not complete their studies due to a number of difficulties such as transport problems or accessibility to learning institutions,” explains Warrener.
When the first phase started, trainees enrolled for either business administration NQF level 4, as pharmacist assistants or for the National Youth Chef’s Programme in partnership with the South African Chefs Association. Thirty-six of the 40 youths that were enrolled on the business administration learnership have secured permanent employment within Netcare. In 2013, the second phase of the programme included internships for students with disabilities who may have had a degree or diploma in human resources, financial management, accounting, economics, administration, pharmacy and nursing.
Besides the Sinako programme, Netcare has another development programme for young aspiring pharmacist assistants. In the last 3 years, 321 basic and post basic pharmacist assistants were developed of which 37% were previously unemployed youth. “We are currently recruiting 73 additional unemployed youth to be placed on this programme which starts in November 2014. Similarly, we have provided experiential learning through internships to 124 new pharmacy students. And these have given employment opportunities to 87 previously unemployed young South Africans.”
Warrener also added that Netcare Education faculty of nursing education produces the largest number of nursing graduates in South Africa’s private healthcare sector. “Between 2009 and 2012, we have trained 8762 aspiring nurses of which 50% were unemployed youth at the time of commencing training,” he explained.
“In addition to our internal efforts, we also participate in a number of projects that benefit young women in our country. Last month, Netcare once again showed its commitment to the empowerment of young South African women when the group hosted as many as 540 girl learners at hospitals across the country in the ‘Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day’ initiative,” Warrener indicates.
The initiative, which is currently celebrating its 12-year anniversary, aims to instill a sense of empowerment in young women and inspire them to follow their dreams by believing in themselves. During the course of the day, the learners participated in a comprehensive programme, which included various activities also aimed at exposing the girls to the many job opportunities available at Netcare.
The programme was aimed at making the girls feel as much a part of the company as any Netcare employee. Each girl was then awarded a participation certificate as a token of appreciation from Netcare for their involvement.
“At Netcare, we know that women are vibrant and dynamic contributors to the economy. Netcare places a high value on the empowerment of women and gender equality in the workplace and we have firm policies in place in order to develop the skills of women and increase their representation in the South African economy,” says Warrener.
Netcare’s efforts to diversify its workforce and afford previously disadvantaged groups with equal opportunities in the workplace also saw it recently ranking first in the healthcare sector of the Mail & Guardian’s Most Empowered Companies award. It also achieved 15th place overall, making it the only healthcare group to achieve a ranking in the top 20 of South Africa’s most empowered companies.
“We remain cognisant of the fact that much still needs to be done to create a truly equitable South Africa where young people are fully empowered to participate in the economy and reach their full potential. Netcare will continue to contribute towards making a dent in the youth unemployment rate by participating in training, education and development programmes that will benefit youth,” concludes Warrener.
Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick and Jillian Penaluna
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
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