Christel House South Africa, a non-profit school in Ottery (Cape Town), recently hosted its 4th annual Speed Interview event where human resource (HR) professionals conducted mock job interviews with the school’s Grade 12 students. The aim of the event is to help prepare the students for the world of work by creating a real-world interview scenario with an experienced professional. All Christel House’s students come from severely under-resourced communities on the Cape Flats and the event forms part of the school’s innovative career development program to help its students find gainful employment in their dream job.
As part of the event, the school matched students career interests to donor companies that support the school, with a particular focus on technology, engineering, finance and other leading industries. In preparation for the interviews, students prepared a curriculum vitae, a cover letter, researched the company and were given mock interview scenarios. Each of the students had a 30 min interview session with an HR professional, after which they received constructive feedback on their interview skills. “The mock interview experience gave us an idea of what it would be like one day when we are really interviewed for a job. One of the biggest lessons I learnt today was that when asked about your weakness, you should also explain how you would apply it as a strength in the workplace,” Aluta D., Grade 12 student at Christel House SA.
Interviewers were particularly impressed with the preparation and professionalism shown by many of the students. “What an incredible experience. It was so great participating and interviewing two students today. It’s a start of a career path for the students and it was just so insightful to hear the students responses to the interview questions. I’m so impressed with the product that Christel House is producing and they’ve got to be very proud of their students and what they’re doing for the community,” Chris Buchanan, Director of Client Solutions Russia & Africa at Dell Technologies and Christel House SA Board Member.
“It was lovely meeting the kids and getting to know more about them, their struggles and their dreams. Our goal today was to be able to provide the students with the soft skills they’ll need to reach their dreams,” said Dineo Mphela, HR Business Partner at Growthpoint Properties.
With the youth unemployment rate in South Africa at a shocking 66.5%*, Christel House SA believes that school-based career development has become a necessity. Students who attend Christel House SA receive college and careers planning and support from as young as Grade RR, through regular events, job shadowing opportunities and talks by professionals in various industries. The school therefore has a NEET rate (alumni not in employment, education or training) of 14%, while the rest of the country buckles under a NEET rate of 32%.
“The current job market is highly competitive. For youth who come from marginalized communities where they don’t necessarily have connections in the formal job market, being prepared is what could ultimately set them apart to achieve their dream job,“ says Louise de Marillac st Julien, Career Development Manager at Christel House SA. “Another main differentiator between success and failure is the soft skills that Christel House SA students are equipped with. Character teaching is embedded into the daily school curriculum and students are taught to internalise values such as respect, responsibility, integrity and independence, which are essential tools to make it in the job market.”
Christel House SA serves children from underprivileged communities on the Cape Flats and support them for 19 years (Grade RR to Grade 12 and five years post matric) through character-based and career-focused education. Key aspects of Christel House’s model include poverty mitigation services in the form of daily transport to school and back, professional health care, nutritious meals, psychosocial counselling, family assistance and college and careers planning and support.
Christel House SA would like to express their gratitude to the following organisations who took part in the Speed Interview event: Blue Label Telecoms, BlackRock, CHEP, Dell Technologies, Donaldson Filtration Solutions, Growthpoint Properties, Maersk, Rain, Roche, Smollan and The Philanthropy Initiative with Employees of Allan Gray.
If you are interested in providing internship, learnership, vacation work or employment opportunities for Christel House SA students, please contact their Career Development Department at 021 704 9441/2 or 084 580 4081.
More about Christel House
Christel House South Africa is a non-profit school with a single mission: to break the cycle of poverty. It offers no-fee scholarships to students from some of Cape Town’s poorest neighborhoods and support them for 19 years (Grade RR to Grade 12 and five years post matric) through character-based and career-focused education. The school’s beneficiaries include 800+ students from grade RR to 12, 250+ post-matric students and more than 3000 parents and other members of the communities it serves.
The main criterion for admission to Christel House is not evidence of talent – but evidence of poverty, one measure of which is a maximum average income of R1,500 per household member per month. Key aspects of Christel House’s model include poverty mitigation services in the form of daily transport to school and back, professional health care, nutritious meals, psychosocial counselling, family assistance and college and careers planning and support.