JUBILANT GRADUATES: The top three Professional Retail Programme graduates celebrate their own successes as well as an incredible 100% employment rate for their whole class. From left, Ntombenhle Dlamini (3rd place/ Hang in There Award), Khadjia Dada (1st place / Cutting Edge Award) and Nadine Moonsamy (2nd place/ Best Fit Award). Image by: Erika Trnovcova / MRP Foundation
Sixteen graduates from the Jump Start Professional Retail Programme celebrated their stellar achievements - successfully completing the testing internship along with their exciting new employment opportunities - at the inaugural graduation hosted at the trendy 031 Restaurant in Durban on November 23. The inspiring evening gathered together programme partners, parents, employers and MRP Foundation staff to honour the graduates’ hard work and toast to the internship programme’s phenomenal 100% employment rate.
Designed by industry for industry, the dynamic Professional Retail Programme is a ten-month internship aimed to assist young graduates with employment challenges such as lack of on-the-job training and access to job opportunities. It offers a rich learning experience of blended coursework and experiential training to bridge the gap between tertiary education and the working world. MRP Foundation Manager, Karen Wells, expanded on the purpose of the internship - to fashion ‘job-ready’ graduates who can immediately add value in their place of employment - in her heartfelt congratulations speech.
“When we created this course we wanted to develop well-rounded professional retailers who would succeed whether they went into buying, planning or store management. To do this we engaged with retailers to understand what they needed and they came back with a challenge: to find people that can survive in retail; to make sure they’re work ready from day one and to develop future skills as retail is always changing and requires a new breed of retailer who understands the whole value chain. The proof of the programme is in the pudding - some of our students were formally employed before they even graduated.”
Twenty-three-year-old Durbanite Khadija Dada was one of the talented graduates to be snapped up for employment. The highly motivated and hardworking individual completed her BCom Postgraduate Degree in both Marketing and Supply Chain Management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal before joining the Professional Retail Programme at the beginning of 2017. Her top marks and admirable work ethic combined with her passion for both numbers and products landed her the top student ‘Cutting Edge’ Award as well as a position as a Buyers Assistant at Mr Price Home.
“The programme has given us exposure to almost everything in retail, from store experiences to suppliers and then onto the Support Centre where I saw how everything fits together. It was amazing to see everything from different angles and I never thought I would know so much about retail as I now do. The highlight of the course was learning about everything that goes into a product - when I now go into a store I definitely look at products differently. The course also gave me the honour of becoming friends with a group of amazing individuals who have finished the internship stronger than ever and have all been permanently employed by the Mr Price Group.”
The graduates were also offered real work advice on how to succeed in the changing landscape of retail and manufacturing from CEO - Eddels Shoes/ Celrose Clothing, John Comely.
“Today is a different world compared to people who graduated three years ago: online shopping, the attack of the chinese imports, illegal trading in SA, competing in tough environments and dark factories (where robots take over) are just some of the realites. In this modern world if you are not excellent you are redundant. And excellence is not passing an exam and thinking you have made it, excellence is making a difference every day. You need to become an expert and understand your product. In this changing world it’s going to be about how we work together and invest in and look after each other. Despite these challenges the future is exciting and you are rewriting it.”
Applications for the 2018 Professional Retail Programme and the Pre-Production Programme are now open. You can apply here