3 February 2021

Last year, a total of 67 youngsters and community members in KwaZulu-Natal are fulfilling their dreams of becoming qualified artisans and agriculturalists. Tongaat Hulett secured R3.9 million to assist these community members and youngsters in the areas where the company operates to fulfil their dreams of becoming qualified artisans and agriculturalists in the various sugarcane projects implemented in the various communal areas.

The students have been accepted to undertake training in a number of areas, including welding, fitting and turning electrical and instrumentation. They were selected from the traditional leadership areas of Macambini, Nzuza, Mpungose and Khoza under the Mandeni and uMlalazi local municipalities.

Tongaat Hulett Sugar South Africa Corporate Affairs Executive Nkonzo Mhlongo said skills are central to improving employability and livelihoods opportunities, enhance productivity and promote local economic development in the communities associated with Tongaat Hulett.

“Coordinated efforts with multiple stakeholders, including the sugarcane farmer organisations, are critical to increasing people’s access to relevant, good quality education and training, particularly in rural communities. The multiple stakeholder forums also provide high level leadership to ensure that the benefits of development are extended to all,” she said.

During the recruitment drive, Tongaat Hulett adopted a hands-on approach. Mhlongo said the process started with the distribution of the application forms to the various grower structures within the Tongaat Hulett catchment areas.

“A total of 104 application forms were received from the grower leadership. This process was then to shortlist qualifying candidates. The shortlisted candidates had to have Grade 12 with strong math and science results, an N3 qualification as a minimum and some workplace exposure.

“The training of the thirteen trade students will cost R2.6 million. The course also has a workplace component integrated into the training programme. Tongaat Hulett in partnership with the Shukela Training Centre have committed to support the students with their workplace training in order to ensure that they complete the programme,” said Mhlongo

Fikile Cele (27), a student, said that this year had been a very challenging year for her and her family.

“I have been busy applying for learnerships but with no luck. In order to support my family, I have been making beads and selling them to the community members. I am so thankful to be part of the electrical apprenticeship training programme which is a nine week course. An amount of R106 000 has been invested towards my tuition over the next 3 years to make my dream of becoming a qualified electrician a reality.  This investment will change the trajectory of my life and my family,” said Cele

Cyprian Khumalo (44) is another student who has been awarded R85 000 over the next 3 years under the fitting and turning programme.

“I have been unemployed for 4 years. The training facilitated by Tongaat Hulett will give me broad range of career options in the future. It will also take away the stress factors that have been associated with my financial insecurity. There are twelve of us at the Centre and from day one I felt a sense of excitement and commitment from each student.

“We really appreciate Tongaat Hulett’s commitment to creating value for all its stakeholders including the ordinary community members,” said Khumalo.