For original-equipment manufacturer Weir Minerals Africa, a positive consequence of the Covid-19 lockdown last year was that graduates in the company’s graduate programme were introduced to more community work than they otherwise would have been.
“It has become one of the highlights in terms of making it part of the core curriculum for the two-year programme. I think the youth of today wants to be more involved in the community aspect. We want it more ingrained in the programme going forward,” says Weir Minerals Africa regional human resources director Tshidi Anya.
It is being considered as a compulsory component of the programme from this year on, in terms of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, she adds.
“We don’t operate in isolation. We are intrinsically linked to the communities in which we operate, and it is important for us to contribute to uplifting them.”
Anya tells Mining Weekly that the lockdown provided the impetus for Weir Minerals Africa to not only enhance its online development but also bring the graduates into the company’s CSR initiatives.
“Young people are increasingly interested in not only earning a salary but also doing their part to make the world around them better for all,” she notes, adding that South Africa’s transformation agenda goes beyond employment-equity quotas, broad-based black economic empowerment points and CSR expenditure.
Anya believes that “true transformation happens when individuals give of themselves personally”, which is the aim of incorporating the CSR component into the graduate programme.
The programme provides participants with the opportunity to gain on-the-job training and experience to work on Weir Minerals’ global suite of projects. They are selected through a rigorous interview process to narrow down candidates recommended by universities and in-house applicants.
Other Education Initiatives
Weir Minerals Africa also offers apprenticeships for technical trades whereby learners are afforded the opportunity to learn on the job and acquire a technical trade qualification.
The four-year apprenticeship programme includes theoretical and practical components.
Anya says that about 80% of both the graduate programme participants and apprentices are ultimately absorbed into the company as employees.
Weir Minerals Africa also has a bursary programme that funds university students in their second year of study. The bursaries cover tuition fees, accommodation, books and a monthly allowance. Bursary recipients are usually invited to become graduate programme participants once they graduate.
Anya says the bursaries are awarded based on academic performance in the first year of study and on recommendations made by allied engineering departments at key universities.
“These programmes serve to not only broaden the talent pool for our own organisation but also uplift the economy as a whole.”
She says Weir Minerals Africa’s education assistance programme – whereby the company pays for the primary and secondary school education of lower-income employees’ children – further illustrates the company’s commitment towards supporting South Africa’s transformation agenda.