South Africa has recorded the highest levels of unemployment to date – and the female unemployment rate remains far higher than that of men. During Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, Statistics South Africa found that more than four in every ten young South African women were not only unemployed, but lacked education or training. A closer look reveals how a lack of soft skills needed to get and keep a job, are among the major obstacles to employment and entrepreneurship.
Bernini, South Africa’s much loved real Natural Sparkling Grape Frízzante is well known for championing women helping women, the impetus behind the brand’s female empowerment initiatives, such as The Squadcast. First launched as a podcast series during Women’s Month in 2020, The Squadcast is a salute to the achievements of strong, powerful women and their journey to success. Through the power of this platform’s supportive female network, Bernini enables women to progress in their personal and professional lives, and inspires them to embrace all that they can be, rather than conforming to unattainable societal expectations.
Now Bernini is taking its commitment to female empowerment one step further, through its funding and roll out of an Entrepreneurship and Workplace Preparedness Training initiative. This is in partnership with respected non-governmental organisation OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) and aims to equip over 1000 women with skills to enter the workforce – the single most important step towards economic empowerment. The programme will roll out in KwaZulu-Natal over the next year, with plans to expand to other areas in the future.
This partnership between the female-led teams of Bernini and OVSA is fuelled by a shared purpose of empowering women – and a belief that this initiative can make a real positive change in the lives of young women who dream of building a bright and independent future. OVSA has successfully implemented educational programmes for young people attending Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, over the past 16 years.
‘’There has never been a time when our young women needed more help to get into the job market or to get started on their path towards entrepreneurship’’ says Bernini Marketing Manager Tania Kotze.
‘’We understand how a lack of skills makes it difficult for women to escape the cycle of inequality. Young women need an arsenal of soft skills to get and keep a job or start their own business. The training offered by OVSA will help them master the soft skills needed to grow with confidence, and quickly adapt to an ever-shifting world of work’’ she says.
Through the specially-tailored Entrepreneurship and Workplace Readiness Programme entitled ‘Resetting the Economic Empowerment Clock,’ 90 female graduates from TVET colleges in KwaZulu-Natal, will be taken through transformative learning experiences – each comprising a one-week, in-depth training programme – that will help them transition from student life into the complexities of the working world.
The programme curriculum includes CV writing, interview techniques, leadership, teamwork, communication, work ethic and interpersonal skills. Those who have completed the training and wish to start a business or enter formal employment, will be linked to ongoing mentorship support through digital applications.
Also part of this initiative are 20 one-day, face-to-face workshops, each of which will accommodate 50 final year female students at TVET colleges. These will be held across four districts in KwaZulu-Natal where students face economic and social challenges, including eThekwini, Ugu, King Cetshwayo and uMgungundlovu. The workshops are designed to help students to achieve a better understanding of the current workplace environment and enhance their competitive edge within the labour market. These will roll out between November 2021 and November 2022. *These may be presented online dependent on lockdown restrictions.
Managing Director at OVSA, Marlijn van Berne says, “Education, upskilling and re-skilling – to keep pace with the rapid technological and digital transformations in the workplace – are critical to give women the edge in the world of work, and with this, the soft skills needed to navigate the workspace. So many young women dream of a future where they are able to support a family and have a growing business. Financial independence is key to achieving this. We are proud to partner with Bernini to place them on the road to achieving their dreams right now.’’
Bernini’s Kotze believes the timing is right to push for economic access for women, while the country strives for economic recovery. “The right skills and access to the right platforms will give women a space to play an increasingly vital role – socially, professionally, and economically – in driving the South African economy. It is part of our long-term plan to invest in similar initiatives that empower women in their emotional and professional progression.’’