Sibanye-Stillwater is committed to uplifting and providing opportunities for communities in the areas around its operations and select labour- sending communities. With a workforce of over 84 000 across five provinces in South Africa, and with operations in the United States and projects in South America and Europe, the Group’s training and development programmes focus on developing workforce skills to ensure operating sustainability, while contributing to the necessary skills in other sectors of the economies in its host countries.
In South Africa, education and training plays an essential role in building the much-needed capacity that can facilitate economic growth while enabling the beneficiaries to improve their livelihoods and dealing with the challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality.
Through its Human Resource Development (HRD) Programme, the Group provides its employees and community members with required skills, training, experiential learning, and professional development. This is done through a wide range of programmes, which include sponsorship of universities, bursaries for university studies, learnerships, portable skills training, a cadetship programme, adult education and training, and internship programmes. These programmes are tailored to the Group’s needs and its key stakeholders.
Transforming our approach to social investment
Sibanye-Stillwater’s socio-economic development strategy aims to facilitate meaningful contributions to the upliftment of local communities during and beyond mining. The National Development Plan (NDP), the National Strategy for Transformation and Equality, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) inform the Group’s strategy. Accordingly, the Group’s principles and values espoused by these frameworks are embedded in its socio-economic development policies and programmes.
In recent years, the Group has shifted from an approach to social investment based on the disbursement of funds for standalone initiatives to a more structured approach underpinned by evidence- based decision-making, and robust monitoring and evaluation practices. The shift was informed by the recognition that, to achieve meaningful and sustainable impact, social investment needs to be aligned with a company’s core business.
Since 2014, Sibanye-Stillwater has provided approximately R75 million in financial support and enabled 1 493 learners to pursue careers in various fields of study like mining, engineering, finance, and human resources. In 2020, a total of 479 learners participated in the programme.
Best practice shows that, to be successful, bursary programmes need to have several key elements, including progressive recruitment and selection practices, life skills and personal development training, and work-readiness interventions. As such, the Group provides learners with a holistic ‘wraparound’ offering, which includes financial, academic, psychosocial, and career- related support.
The Intern Graduate Development Programme provides work- related exposure and professional development for students completing their university studies. The programme focuses on the Group’s core business areas of mining, engineering and mine- specific technical service disciplines such as metallurgy, chemical engineering, and geology.
Sibanye-Stillwater supports 225 interns through the standard internship programme. Upon completing the programme – and subject to business requirements and the availability of vacant positions – interns are offered permanent employment opportunities within the Group.
The Group offers second internship opportunities to all interns who complete their first programme. Although there are no immediate employment opportunities, interns can apply for a specialist technical services internship for additional training and development. This allows graduates to branch out into a secondary discipline, increasing their competitiveness in the job market. The programme also gives graduates exposure to wider opportunities within the Group.
In addition to internship opportunities, the Group accommodates undergraduates who require a 12-month, work-integrated programme to fulfil the practical component of their degree programmes. The internship is also offered to undergraduates who are required to complete an eight-week, work-related project during vocational periods.
Sibanye-Stillwater’s learnership programme responds to the need for skills development in the mining sector and the wider South African economy. In addition to providing skills development training, the programme aims to increase the employability of young people by providing them with relevant work experience. The Group recruits from within this cohort of participants and communities around its operations and labour-sending areas. In 2020, 1 273 trainees participated in the learnership programme.
Trainees on the programme complete a variety of courses relevant to the mining sector. The learnership programme consists of three streams: mining, engineering, and metallurgy. Courses covered in the mining stream include blasting and operations supervision, while the engineering stream includes diesel mechanics, boilermaking, fitting, and instrumentation. The metallurgy stream allows for entry into employment as a metallurgical plant/process supervisor. On programme completion, learners receive a nationally recognised qualification at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 3 or 4, which will enable them to progress in their careers, both within the Group and at other mining companies.
Entry requirements for the learnership programme include a matric certificate or NQF level courses from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, a medical clearance certificate, and strong communication skills. In addition, suitability for the programme is evaluated through various processes and procedures, including psychometric tests and medical fitness checks. While age is not considered among entry requirements, the majority of trainees are under the age of 35.
The Cadetship programme is designed to provide development for young unemployed members of communities around its operations to gain the basic skills required to be eligible for employment at the entry-level job categories of mining and metallurgy. Applicants must prove that they originate and are residents in the communities immediately adjacent to the operation for which they apply.
In addition, they are required to have a minimum Adult Education and Training (AET) Level 3 certificate or grade 7 to be considered for selection. Applicants who do not meet this minimum requirement are encouraged to enrol in the AET programme. A total of 508 cadetships have been allocated for 2021.
Adult education and training
Sibanye-Stillwater offers an AET programme for employees and other residents of communities around its operations who are functionally illiterate. The programme equips participants with basic competencies, including reading, writing, communicating effectively, and solving problems in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Participants are recruited from our operations and trained at our AET centres. While AET is part of the HRD requirement of the Group’s social and labour plans, the programme also contributes to the United Nations SDG 4, which aims to ensure youth and a substantial proportion of women and men achieve improved literacy and numeracy rates. A total of 870 people participated in the programme in 2020.
The Group initially established the portable skills programme to provide retiring or incapacitated employees with essential skills to earn a livelihood outside employment at the mine. The initiative has since been extended to members of our labour-sending communities. The programme focuses on vocational skills such as carpentry, sewing and welding. In addition, training in entrepreneurship and computer skills is also provided. Training delivered through the portable skills programme is unit standard based in line with the NQF. As such, trainees who complete the programme receive credits towards a recognised qualification. A total of 238 employees and 81 community members received portable skills training in 2020.
Human capital development expands the knowledge and skills of those within or looking to enter the workforce, creating avenues for inclusive economic growth and transformation. It is, however, not an easy process, given challenges such as poverty, inequality of opportunity, and a stagnant domestic economy. Tackling the human capital challenge requires commitment and action, not only from the government but from society as a whole. The private sector has an important role to play in this.
The following key lessons have been noted through Sibanye- Stillwater’s HRD programmes:
Work readiness and ongoing professional development
Bridging the ‘first gap’ by getting young people into training, and helping them succeed there, is a role that many corporates that run education and training programmes have seen as their primary one. There is, however, a growing realisation that getting young people into training is not enough. Education and training interventions need to do more to address the ‘second gap’, or the transition period between graduation and work. This can be achieved by integrating formal work readiness and work placement interventions into education and training initiatives. Sibanye-Stillwater has taken up this challenge by expanding its interventions to ensure students and trainees receive ongoing career development and psychosocial support while they complete their studies.
Measuring social return on investment for improved performance
Social return on investment (SROI) is an outcomes-based approach that can help corporates understand and quantify the social, environmental, and economic value they are creating. It is built on the understanding that it is important for corporates to not only evaluate the effectiveness of their social investments, but to also measure SROI. By accounting for SROI, Sibanye-Stillwater can ensure alignment between its corporate strategic objectives and its social performance, and involve communities around its operations in the conceptualisation of socio-economic development initiatives, thus managing community expectations. Accounting for SROI also allows the Group to harness social capital and create a foundation for strengthened relationships for future interventions.
Partnerships and collaboration
The complexity of the challenges facing the mining sector, and South Africa, makes it imperative for different stakeholders to work together. Sibanye-Stillwater will continue using its HRD initiatives as a vehicle for the sustainable development of communities in and around its operations.
Nompumelelo Biyela is a beneficiary of Sibanye- Stillwater’s HRD programmes. Her relationship with the Group began after she heard about training opportunities available at the mine during a community meeting. Biyela applied for the portable skills programme, which she successfully completed in 2013, graduating at the top of her class.
“I applied for the portable skills programme after I saw an advert and was very happy when I was accepted,” says Biyela. “I received a lot of support from Sibanye-Stillwater during the portable skills training. They provided us with toolboxes, books, meals, and transport. I am proud that I was able to successfully complete my training and do so as the top learner in my class.”
Following the portable skills programme, Biyela applied for further training through the learnership programme. “The portable skills programme opened a lot of doors for me. It allowed me to develop the skills and confidence I neededtoapplyforalearnership,”she explains. Biyelabegan her learnership in welding, cutting and boilermaking and successfully completed the programme, once again graduating at the top of her class. Similar to the portable skills programme, the mine provided all the required learning materials and equipment as well as meals and transport fare during the learnership. In addition, learners received a stipend.
Biyela is now employed by Sibanye-Stillwater as a boilermaker artisan. She is also completing further training to become a foreman. “The programme does not stop there. I still have access to further training opportunities,” she explains.
The support received from the HRD department and from her line manager has played an essential role in allowing Biyela to access opportunities for continuing professional development as she progresses with her career. This is in line with Sibanye-Stillwater’s HRD strategy, which is underpinned by the belief that ongoing learning and skills development are key to inclusive and sustainable development. It is also in line with the Group’s commitment to the wellbeing of both its doorstep and labour-sending communities.
“If you know what you want in the mining sector and are prepared to work hard, you will get there. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have received from Sibanye-Stillwater, and I look forward to continued growth in my career,” Biyela asserts.