There was a jovial mood when government mark the start of Mandela Month by unveiling a Programme that will unlock potential of young graduates with the view to groom them to be future leaders in the public service space.
Delivering his keynote address at the event held at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria on Friday, Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi said the purpose of the Future of Work Ambassadors Programme is to bring a different approach to government’s graduate recruitment programme that is focused on future skills.
“The Programme will unlock potential in young graduates to enhance their capacity and to grow them to be future leaders in the public service. “The public service seeks to build a foundation and legacy to ensure that it recruits and retains a coterie of fresh skills and energetic candidates in the public service,” he said.
The Programme will see the placement of 33 young graduates on internship programmes across selected national and provincial departments for a duration of 24 months. According to Minister Nxesi participants will be provided with practical exposure to the workplace and be capacitated with skills and training to complement their academic credentials.
“The target group is youth between the ages of 18 and 35 and this new cohort of future public servants is expected to receive skills that will enable them to become progressive thinkers who are innovators and problem solvers.
“We are seeking to institutionalise this programme in order to support the ideals of the National Development Plan. This is part of the larger goal of professionalising the public service to be a career of choice for young people. Our endeavour is to provide the participants with workplace exposure to improve their employability and value offering to the public service and for them to establish long term careers in the public sector,” he said.
The Inaugural 33 graduates and future participants in the programme will be placed in various departments nationally and provincially and will receive a monthly stipend of R6, 275 for a duration of 24 months. The Ambassadors will receive training in their fields of qualification, 7 mentorship and exchange of knowledge, experiences and ideas on how the public service can serve the citizens better.
The current cohort of graduates that are being recruited are from the following fields: Finance and Supply Chain Management; Law; Risk Management; Human Resource Management; Communications; Marketing Management; Public Management; Public Administration and Internal Audit.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will also expose the selected candidates to international peer learning through exposing them to public service management in other countries.
UNDP Resident Representative, Dr Ayodele Odusola said: “We stand with you…we will continue to work with you to ensure that this Programme is a success story not only for South Africa, but for the entire African continent. We strongly believe that youth unemployed must be addressed not in words, but by our actions.”
National Youth Development Agency Board Member, Mr Thulisa Ndlela said: “To us the initiative like this where we look into the future of work, it really give us hope that in the highest of government there is a realisation that some of the things that we’ve never questioned are being questioned today…
“One of the conversations we are having with the Basic Education department is about the importance of the quality and structure of the curriculum of our education system…that if we are not teaching the skills of the future today, it means, we are creating people who will never be potentially beneficiaries in the future,” said Mr Ndlela.
One of the graduates, Nikelo Tyala (27) an LLB graduate from the University of Johannesburg who has been placed at the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities said: I have never been employed since I completed my studies last year, I’m excited by the fact I will be learning and I will be involved in a lot of programmes there in relations to personal growth.
“I will be part of the public service, you know most people always complain about public servants, now I will be part of the system, I will be able to get to change the environment, bring new ideas, maybe if possible growth in the department.
“I am a staunch supporter of government services, remember our government is the highest employer, as much as it is overwhelming, I am ready, I can’t hit the ground with a face…as we always say as young that old people are slow, now is our chance to make a difference, learn as much as you can from public servants and take the button and continue with the journey,” added Mr Tyala.
The month of July has become over the years known as Mandela Month, and July 18 has been internationally declared as Mandela Day.