PROUD GRADUATES: Interns from the Professional Retail Programme celebrated completing the ten-month retail programme. Image: Mr Price Foundation / Tim Lubbe
Amidst an exceptionally challenging year, nine interns celebrated completing the Professional Retail Programme at their graduation and having equipped themselves for a retail career. Held at Fairway Guest House in Durban North on 25 November 2020, the low-key celebration provided the opportunity for graduates to mark the proud occasion amongst faculty members, Mr Price Foundation staff and retail industry professionals.
The ten-month blended learning programme bridges the gap between tertiary education and the working world, equipping graduates from varying business and retail degrees. Unique among other programmes, it assists both graduates and business — graduates leave with in-demand critical skills to help them instantly add value to their new position and retail and manufacturing businesses take on confident, skilled juniors with a more holistic view of the retail value chain.
The evening’s top students were overwhelmed to receive their awards: top marks went to Durbanite, Yurisha Archary, who won the “Cutting Edge” Award, runner-up went to Durban resident, Olwenkosi Khadija, who was awarded the “Best Fit” Award, and Pretoria-born Brian Mahlangu took home the “Hang in there” Award for his enthusiasm and dedication to succeed no matter the challenges faced.
Since its first intake in 2017 until 2019, the programme has had a 86% graduate employment rate, with 51 young people graduating from the programme and 44 finding employment. The programme is so highly-regarded by students that graduate, Lona Nelani, shared with the audience how she turned down a job offer after her BCOM degree, with the hopes of joining the programme.
During the special event, Karen Wells, Head of the Mr Price Foundation, recognised the young graduates' resilience, perseverance and dedication to the industy-developed programme saying, “It was a tough year but you had incredible resolve. Although you’ve come to the end of the programme your journey is not over.” Karen also thanked the faculty who had to quickly adapt to remote learning without compromising the programme or standards.
Guest speaker, Natasjio Ambrosio, Head of Sustainability for Mr Price Group, enlightened the guests with industry insights and encouraged the graduates with their career journey ahead.
“This programme exposes you to different things than in undergrad: you are taught by faculty who work in industry, it has a value chain approach, and it encourages you to approach challenges with systemic thinking. Around the globe there is a strategic shift happening, we have seen value chains change rapidly, not only because of geopolitics, with a shift towards localisation. Online shopping has been thrown in, and all of this has changed the landscape of manufacturing and caused disruptions in the system making a number of things in the industry change. This is a year of new beginnings and we are starting to see the change happen in South Africa and Africa. There is a significant change coming and we are already seeing it on the horizon, it’s an incredibly exciting time. You can be confident that what you have is quite unique. There isn’t another programme like this in South Africa. It's up to us to make South Africa’s strategy happen; you are equipped to take on the challenge, whether it be in a retail business, manufacturing or your own business.”
Khwezi Mbatha, a 28-year-old Fashion design graduate from Vryheid, also took the stage to share her appreciation. “This programme taught us about life, love, purpose, passion and most importantly ubuntu, because we have grown into a family. The great Nelson Mandela said that we should encourage each other by seeing the good in each other and I would like to thank everyone who saw the good in us as you’ve helped us reach our full potential.”
TOP GRADUATES: (From L-R) Olwenkosi Khadija,“Best Fit” Award for runner-up; Brian Mahlangu, “Hang in there” Award; Yurisha Archary, “Cutting Edge” Award for top students. Image: Mr Price Foundation / Tim Lubbe
PEARLS OF WISDOM: Khwezi Mbatha, a 28-year-old Fashion design graduate from Vryheid, also took the stage to share her appreciation. Image: Mr Price Foundation / Tim Lubbe