Cheers to careers


Jump Start Retail and Supply Chain Internships develop graduates equipped for the working world

TOASTING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES: Nonsindiso Zuma (Esikhawini, Richards Bay), Melody Mofokeng (Vosloorus, Gauteng) and Sanelisiwe Khambula (Montclair, Durban), celebrate the completion of their Jump Start internships that help bridge the gap between tertiary education and the Retail and Supply Chain industries. Image: Tim Lubbe / MRP Foundation

A jubilant and celebratory atmosphere was prevalent at the Jump Start Professional Retail and Pre-Production Graduation with 24 talented young people toasting their success. Each graduate completed an intensive ten-month internship to prepare them for careers in the Retail and Supply Chain industries.

Held at the DLI Hall in Durban on November 28, the evening gathered together programme partners, parents, Employer Partners and MRP Foundation staff to honour the graduates’ dedication and hard work. The winning graduates were: Mbali Gamede (1st place/ The Cutting Edge Award, Professional Retail Programme, originally from Newcastle); Shongweni resident Hannah Nel (2nd place / Best Fit Award, Professional Retail Programme); Sbonelo Sosibo (Hang in there Award, Pre-Production Programme, originally from Bulwer).

Karen Wells, Head of MRP Foundation, kicked off the feel-good evening by sharing the Foundation’s heart behind investing into youth development through Jump Start’s work readiness programmes.

“For the last ten years our passion has been finding a way to bridge the gap between education and the working world. These programmes prepare graduates to survive two tough industries — retail and manufacturing. These industries offer huge employment opportunities but require resilience and the right skills and attitude. For the economy to grow we need both manufacturing and retail to thrive and we want our students, if they so desire, to envision a career in these industries and be passionate about it.”

For the past ten months graduates, previously part of other tertiary programmes, were exposed to a unique combination of workplace experience and valuable industry knowledge. The Professional Retail Programme unpacks the Retail Whole Value Chain, developing professional retail skills for careers in buying, planning, operations and store management. The Pre-Production Programme develops clothing and fashion graduates in pre-production elements — design, costing, pattern making and planning — and offers workplace experience in a local firm.

Mbali Gamede, part of the Professional Retail Programme, was both humbled and blown away to have won the Cutting Edge Award, presented to the top graduate. Originally from Newcastle, she completed a BCom Degree in Strategic Management and chose to be part of the retail industry because of her passion for people, fashion and self-development. “I have not only learnt about the retail environment but also about myself as a person: how to work well in a team; appreciate every single process or person within the retail value chain and how my decision affects others and the environment. I hope to grow in my new position as a Trainee Planner and maybe one day become a Merchandising Planner”

Developed by industry for industry, the programmes also addresses scare skills shortages and develops a skilled talent pool for Employer Partners to find potential employees from.

Simon de Robillard, Sales and Marketing Manager from Ohtwo Clothing, shared his experience of hosting interns for the programme. “The programme is important because it benefits so many parties. Interns are exposed to work experience and not just theory. The first hand experience in the working environment allows them to see the complexities behind the production environment and gain a much broader understanding of the supply chain. We appreciate it when people come through with a positive attitude and an interest in entering the local industry.”

As a parting message one of the facilitators from the programme, Travis Gale of The Appletree Group, encouraged the green graduates to get stuck into their new careers. “Every start will be difficult, especially when expectation and reality don’t line up. In these moments you need to ask yourself what your life’s vision and values are as this is the fuel that keeps you going. It’s in the middle where your story is written and your character is built, not the beginning or the end.”

See photos from the event here.

Winning graduate, Mbali Gamede (1st place/ The Cutting Edge Award, Professional Retail Programme, originally from Newcastle)‚Äč, stands between Thandeka Nala, Head of Programme for MRP Foundation and Karen Wells, Head of MRP Foundation.

From Left to Right: Thandeka Nala, Head of Programme for MRP Foundation, Sbonelo Sosibo (Hang in there Award, Pre-Production Programme, originally from Bulwer), Karen Wells, Head of MRP Foundation.