The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), a state-owned financial institution that facilitates industrial development, has long thrown its weight behind the expansion of skills among young people. Knowing that youth unemployment is at an all-time high, the IDC is deepening its commitment to supporting youth through a number of strategic initiatives.
In the IDC’s 2019 Integrated Report, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, writes that economic inclusion is an urgent priority, particularly for young people, women and black industrialists. Many of the IDC’s corporate social investment (CSI) projects focus on developing young people.
In the 2018/19 financial year, the company allocated 68% of its CSI budget to education and skills development. Its CSI initiatives are broadly aligned with the country’s developmental priorities, as the need to create employment in order to lift people out of poverty is emphasised.
Supporting skills development for employability and transforming under-resourced schools
The IDC has targeted technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges around the country as part of its focus on higher education. It has supported these TVET colleges since 2013, acknowledging that focusing on vocational and technical skills training makes sense due to the high demand for skilled workers and artisans in South Africa.
The IDC’s intervention is twofold: it supplies machinery and equipment to the colleges, but it also assists them to design their curricula, in partnership with employers who typically shy away from taking on students due to the vast gap between industry requirements and what they are trained to do.
By working with employers, the IDC gains insight into real-world needs and ensures that curricula are sufficiently pragmatic. It also keeps the colleges up to date with current market trends.
Since launching the programme in 2013, the IDC has invested R11.3 million, supporting 11 colleges.
Additionally, the IDC has invested more than R102 million into 30 schools in South Africa, in partnership with the Adopt-a-School Foundation. Through its involvement in basic education, it hopes to transform under-resourced schools into functional schools – and it has already devoted six years to this project, which largely focuses on uplifting the academic, infrastructural, social and security environment at four schools in Limpopo and five schools in the Eastern Cape.
The Adopt-a-School Foundation manages how the programme is implemented in the adopted schools.
The IDC also offers training and support to school governing bodies, senior management teams and learner representative councils, hoping to improve the quality of management, leadership and governance in schools. It partners with departments such as Home Affairs and Social Development to ensure that learners can access grants and other services they may need.
According to Molefe, significant successes include an improvement in the performance of gateway subjects and Bachelor’s passes, as well as the growth of income-generating projects in communities. Just as importantly, the provision of decent ablution facilities at adopted schools has restored children’s dignity.
The IDC has been contributing towards improving the livelihoods of poorer communities since 2004 and takes great pride in the impact it has made thus far, with an average of R40 million spent every year.
Preparing for a technological future
Thirty schools have received ICT intervention programmes, thanks to the IDC’s commitment to preparing learners for a future in which technology will play a primary role.
Working with the private sector has also been part of the IDC’s strategy. For example, it has partnered with Wipro Technologies at all 30 schools it is involved with, providing IT equipment and running ICT programmes in each school. Wipro and the Nelson Mandela Foundation partnered with the IDC and Adopt-a-School Foundation to upgrade selected schools in the Eastern Cape.
The IDC invested R20 million in these schools, constructing a library in honour of Nelson Mandela’s centenary, as well as 15 new classrooms, a science lab, an administration facility and two ablution facilities. The money also helped to renovate nine structures and convert two classrooms into ICT centres.
Pneuma Academy of Excellence
Collaboration and partnerships are vital to the success of the IDC’s projects. It supports a number of dynamic projects and, under its entrepreneurship/community development portfolio, the Pneuma Academy of Excellence in Gauteng is one of the most impressive.
Pneuma Jewellers CC was a social enterprise registered in 1983. Started in 2002 by Michael Pneuma, a qualified goldsmith and jeweller, the small business grew into a training provider for learners keen to learn the trades of goldsmithing and diamond mounting and setting.
The company became fully compliant in 2015 and participated in the development of a new goldsmith qualification, which is now an accredited programme. In 2017, the Pneuma Academy of Excellence was registered, with financial support from the IDC.
According to Mike Pneuma, managing director of the Academy: “We have successfully delivered the most goldsmith training in the sector – 148 learners have completed their training on our premises to date and 19% of graduates have gone on to start a business as either entrepreneurs or sole traders,” he says. “Some 42% of the trainees have ‘super achieved’, that is, excelled above the average, including entrepreneurs, super artisans, managers and teachers, as well as deaf candidates. We have a good success rate in the market – around 93% of our graduates are assisted and placed within the industry.”
Pneuma was one of the first companies to kick off a university graduate internship and is proud of the pioneering work done by the programme. The first black trade test official at Indlela, the National Artisan Development Support Centre, and the first black learner to become a teacher at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein were trained and mentored at Pneuma.
Around 90% of the learners are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and although Pneuma is a white- owned business, it considers itself 90% black empowered. Some 34% of learners are women. The academy also supports the hearing impaired.
Pneuma’s ‘super artisans’ describes learners who are mastering two or three trades and becoming more valuable employees, trainers or business owners because of this.
Pneuma’s success rate appealed to the IDC. In 2017, the Development and Impact Support Department (DIS), a unit within the IDC, approved an investment of R878 000 and in 2018 just under R5 million, which has enabled Pneuma to acquire high-tech equipment that will enable the students to compete in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Tebogo Molefe, Head: Corporate Social Investment email@example.com
First published: Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2019