"The programme was a great success. Not only did we assist the unemployed youth with invaluable retail experience, but a skilled recruitment pool has been created for the retail industry, which is so desperately needed," said Jean Lindsay, HR manager at AutoZone.
The group currently has a further 81 learners in its stores on a similar W&RSETA project in the rural areas (Free State, Northern Cape, Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga), which is also being facilitated by Retail Relate.
"Skills shortages and unemployment statistics are higher in the rural than urban areas. The Rural Youth Assistance Programme is allowing the youth to become marketable, curbing unemployment and upskilling the industry in these desperate regions.
"Further to these projects, the group has also embarked on a project in conjunction with W&RSETA, the South African Disability Development Trust and About Learning, where it will have 64 disabled learners in its stores currently working towards their NQF Level 2 National Certificate in Wholesale and Retail Operations. Disabled unemployed members of society face huge challenges in entering the job market.
"With competition for any employment so high, their physical or learning difficulties often place them at a disadvantage. At the end of April 2013, these 64 learners will have been trained in all areas in retail, will have a qualification and will be able to offer a skill to any retailer. We hope to be able to employ many of these graduates at the end of their programme.
"The fact that this programme is aimed at young people, who were previously unemployed, encourages them to excel in what they do with the view of impressing the host employers where the training takes place," said Dr Hennie Zwarts, COO of the W&RSETA.
"The programme takes young people off the streets where the temptation to get up to no good is strong and turns them into responsible citizens who can provide for their families. While some will be permanently employed after completing the programme, others will use the skills they gained during the training to start their own businesses, thus contributing to the economic growth and development of their communities. This is one of those projects the W&RSETA prides itself in as the impact is immediately felt," he concluded.