By Hlengiwe Ndlovu | 2018-04-17
MTN Foundation and Swaziland Empowerment Limited (SEL) have jointly committed E350 000 to support training of young people to acquire vocational skills.
This commitment was announced on Friday at Swazi MTN headquarters during the celebration of 50 graduates who have successfully completed different vocational training programmes at skills training centres spread across all the country’s regions.
MTN Foundation is the corporate social responsibility wing of Swazi MTN which invests part of the company’s profits in communities as a way of appreciating customer support.
SEL, on the other hand, is a shareholder at Swazi MTN and particularly keen to be associated with the improvement of education and supporting marginalised groups in Swaziland.
Swazi MTN committed to investing E200 000 this year, a second instalment given that the first instalment of E200 000 was contributed in 2016. SEL on the other hand has, for the first time in this programme, invested E150 000.
About 50 young people who benefited from the initial E200 000 investment made by MTN Foundation in 2016, were joined by their parents to celebrate their successful completion of both their formal class-room training plus industrial attachment in different companies in Swaziland.
From the initial E200 000 investment by Swazi MTN in 2016, about E72 000 was invested towards setting up a plumbing department, while the balance of E127 000 supported 50 students in different vocational studies. A total of 35 trainees enrolled at Manzini Industrial Training Centre (MITC) and 15 at Siteki Industrial Training Centre (SITC).
The graduates had to be on industrial attachment for a period of three to six months after successful formal training. Swazi MTN Chief Executive Officer Ambrose Dlamini and SEL Chairman S’thofeni Ginindza congratulated the graduates for the successful completion of their programmes.
Dlamini said the investment made by the company was in line with the country’s vision to grow a solid young workforce that will accelerate development at a time when Swaziland also aspires to attain first world status. The MTN CEO said the vocational skills training programme was in line with the proverb, “it’s better to teach someone to fish than to give him a fish.”
Adding, the MTN CEO said: “Our aim is to keep young people away from the streets, and we look forward to working with these young people in the next chapter of their lives. We know that some of them will be our vendors, and will support us and other corporates with specialised services.”
This group of trainees was identified by Young Heroes from all the four regions of the country using specialised assessments to check the extent of need while Skills Training Centre provided subsidised training.
The ministry of education and training was also part of the training programme as a parent ministry for Skills Training Centres, and also brought on board BY Micro Projects. The selected candidates were then trained in agriculture, arts and craft, auto electrical, carpentry, computer, electrical wiring, metal work, motor mechanic, panel beating, spray painting, and plumbing.
With SEL coming on board, Dlamini said they will double the number of trainees supported each year from 50 to 100.
In the meantime, Ginindza said what inspired the company to invest in vocational training is the aspiration to invest towards the improvement of education. Further, SEL wants to create opportunities for young people to start their own companies, create employment opportunities for others and contribute to the economy.
“As the private sector, we need to meet government halfway. Depending on the outcome of this investment, we are going to maintain our partnership going forward, as well as increase our sponsorship,” said Ginindza.
Ginindza further disclosed that SEL had spent E3.4 million on Social Corporate Responsibility (CSR) because they firmly believe that they need to give back to the society.
Swaziland Skills Centre Chief Executive Director Brian Magongo thanked Swazi MTN and Swaziland Empowerment Limited for throwing their weight behind vocational education.
He further pleaded that it would help to consider government sponsorship for vocational training because the students have a potential to return funds loaned to students. He also disclosed that the previous investment by MTN Foundation helped decrease some of the challenges they were grappling with as an institution.
For instance, he said although their total enrolment ranged between 400-600 trainees per annum, however, not all of these students would complete their training due to various reasons, one of which is that some trainees come from poverty-stricken households while others were brought by their parents as a punishment for their dishonourable conduct.
“However, all the candidates that were supported by MTN have completed the training and this is such a significant milestone for us,’ he said. Going forward, Magongo said they seek to introduce modern courses such as fashion design, and hairdressing to add on the current 13 courses on offer. “We still need strong financial support though going forward. That is why we believe that if government has come up with means of getting back scholarship loans, our trainees should also benefit from the support,” he said.
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