Connecting with the future: Marula Platinum.

Marula Platinum, a subsidiary of Implats based in the Limpopo Province in South Africa, has been working closely with Growth-Link Integrated Solutions to connect with local communities. Together, the two organisations have implemented a specialised Learn2Work programme that provides attendees with the skill sets they need for entry into the world of work, the ability to establish their own businesses or open up employment opportunities across the mining sector in their areas.
Marula Platinum wanted to work closely with local communities in supporting their development and ensuring their growth and sustainability through investment, stronger relationships and long-term employment. To this end they partnered with Growth-Link to develop a highly targeted and focused Learn2Work programme that provided delegates with the tools they needed to thrive and grow.
“South Africa is faced with some of the highest unemployment challenges on the continent, especially with regards to the youth, and some statistics we found placed more than 50% of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 at the greatest risk of unemployment,” explained Derrick Kayser, Senior Consultant at Growth-Link Integrated Solutions. “In the areas where the Marula Platinum mines are situated, unemployment across all ages and genders is high so we developed this specific Learn2Work project to alleviate this.”
The Learn2Work programme can be tailored to address a variety of topics such as living healthily, understanding sexuality, the value and control of money and managing time. It also covers the basics of business, how to prepare for work, understanding the relationship between employer and employee, personal values and ethics, and building valuable relationships.  This particular course designed in conjunction with Marula Platinum incorporated: Managing Myself, Understanding Sexuality, Managing My Money, Understanding Business and Mining, and the programme was further extended to include entrepreneurship development. 
The mining company sponsored 20 learners to participate over the 35 day course while Growth-Link sponsored a further five, bringing the total of individuals to 25.
The programme had impressive results and did so much more for the attendees than simply provide them with a learning opportunity. Marula Platinum took the idea to the tribal heads of the relevant communities to establish that they were open to the idea and to ask for their input as to which community members should attend. Once the delegates were selected, Marula Platinum paid for their access to the course and made money available for transportation and food.
The entire process was managed in such a way as to ensure that delegates were supported throughout–food and transport concerns can hamper the learning journey so  Marula made sure that these were not challenges that their attendees had to overcome.
Once the programme was completed all delegates received a total of 54 NQF credits as the courses are NQF aligned and these were uploaded to the database on their behalf. 
“The success rate was extremely high and our learners overcame extraordinary challenges to achieve their results,” says Kayser. “Some did assignments at home without electricity!”

The Results

Jakes van der Sandt, the HRD Superintendent from Marula stated that, “One could clearly see a mental and emotional growth in the learners over the 7 weeks of the course. It was impressive to see their metamorphosis from wide-eyed children to confident young adults in such a short period of time.”
Thanks to Growth-Link’s ability to blend different programme elements with one another, we can craft sustainable, adaptable and scalable solutions to fit any community, challenge or business opportunity.
“We can add modules, change them, shift them around and remove them, allowing for greater flexibility depending on our client’s needs,” concludes Keyser. “The goal is to provide a programme that is of benefit to everyone and our expertise allows us to connect with an organisation or community to develop a programme that’s rich and sustainable.” 

ABI Spaza Training

In 2009, Growth-Link Integrated Solutions worked with Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI), the soft drink division of South African Breweries (SAB), to develop the SETA and South African Qualifications Authority (SAGA) recognised course entitled: Growing My Business. ABI felt that it was important to create a training programme to ensure that spaza shops were better equipped to handle an increasingly challenging market and significant threats to their survival.
They contacted Growth-Link and asked them to develop a sustainable home and spaza business course that would educate attendees on business continuity, financial viability, improved business management, effective marketing, merchandising and inventory management. The result was the Growing My Business programme which went out to a number of areas across South Africa including Tlabane, Richards Bay and Kathlehong.
Those who completed the three-day course received a certificate of attendance which is then followed by a certificate of competence once they have participated in an evaluation module that asks them to show practical application of the concepts they were taught in the workshop.
Growing My Business has been an unprecedented success, providing basic business management and financial skills to more than 3 900 delegates since its inception, receiving an average rating of 98.6%, and impacting the lives of nearly 20, 000 people.
An ABI Volume Performance study found that those spaza owners who had received training out-performed those who had not, proving the value of their course and showing a clear return on investment. This was backed up by Growth-Link research that found 95.2% of spaza owners increased their business skills, 69.8% found their customer relations had improved, 11.1% of owners were able to employ one more person and 98.4% had seen a notable sales increase as a result of the training.

Beyond Conformance

Growth-Link Integrated Solutions has delivered exclusive and integrated supervisory, management and leadership learning solutions across a variety of industries for more than ten years. Our product line consists of NQF Level 2-5 programmes and 60% of the programme delivery has been in the mining sector.
As a result of our proven competencies and track record the Mining Qualifications Authority gave us approval to offer Basic Generic Supervisory Skills (NQF Level 2) and Intermediate Generic Management Skills (NQF Level 3). These saw a competency rate of more than 80% of the learners who submitted to companies such as Xstrata Coal, Optimum Coal, Marula Platinum, Anglo Gold Ashanti and BHP Billiton.
Comparative studies were undertaken to explore the factors contributing to the success rate in some instances and the low workplace submission and learner competency in others. It was found that although good unit standard-based learning and assessment material are essential in order for learners to be found competent, it is the quality of services before, during and after training that impacts the workplace application.
Growth-Link has subsequently developed a holistic delivery model designed to address these issues and includes elements such as:
  • Placing learners on the correct skills programme
  • Assisting clients to line management commitment and operational support
  • Executing results driven projects and integrated assessment
  • Providing feedback to human resource practitioners, line managers and learners
  • Documenting lessons learned and best practices

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