It might seem an unlikely connection, but recently 13 unemployed (yet highly motivated) young South Africans from a poverty-stricken Johannesburg township called Diepsloot enjoyed their first virtual learning session “#unleashingexcellence” with Visualfabriq, a leading global tech solutions provider with its HQ in Maarssen, The Netherlands.
This was the kick-off of the Visualfabriq-Rhiza pilot project that is innovatively linking learners in the Rhiza Babuyile IT end-user course to the mentoring and coaching of Visualfabriq professionals. The aim is to boost the learners’ confidence and experience, skills and knowledge with the ultimate goal of bettering their employment opportunities. South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, and this is disproportionately concentrated in systemically disadvantaged communities such as Diepsloot.
Visualfabriq is a long-term supporter of Net4Kids, an international organisation that connects entrepreneurial businesses to high impact child and youth projects around the world. Through this engagement, visualfabriq recently announced a three-year partnership with non-profit organisation, Rhiza Babuyile, a Net4Kids project.
Visualfabriq CEO Jaco Brussé says, “At Visualfabriq we unleash the excellence of our clients, but our purpose and impact is not limited to just doing business. As part of our social impact, we are working towards becoming a 1% company, where 1% of our profits and 1% of our time are donated towards projects that help to unleash the excellence of vulnerable children and youth.”
For the Rhiza youth, what this means is that their skills and enterprise development programmes have been boosted with both new funding and access to the expertise of a leading global tech company. In a pre-pilot survey, the Rhiza IT learners said that what they would most like to master is interviewing skills, revealing their keen awareness that it is through their opportunities for gainful, sustainable employment or entrepreneurship, that they can unleash their excellence and change their stars.
For the first online #unleashingexcellence session, the learners engaged with Visualfabriq CEO Jaco Brussé, Johannesburg-based Customer Success Manager, Tremayne Linder and Marieke Smits, the project leader and a Customer Success Manager based at Global HQ in The Netherlands.
The learners were briefed on the tech-driven learning platform which includes participation in several group webinar sessions, ongoing interaction through a Slack collaboration hub, a variety of online learning resources and practical engagement through a ‘toy program’, a website specially set up by Visualfabriq to simulate the job application steps that then leads to the role-playing of an interviewing process. Learners were provided with a comprehensive set of online resources to research and self-study how to write CVs, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles, as well as develop their interviewing skills.
“The Visualfabriq team is delighted to start working with the Rhiza learners,” says Marieke Smits. “We have received such enthusiastic feedback and really good questions from them. We are confident they will make most of this opportunity to engage with an international software company, which might be similar to the company they might work for, or even start themselves in future.
For Visualfabriq, a business with the purpose of making a good difference to society, working on this initiative has already brought us even closer together as a team. It is fantastic to be able to share what we have learned throughout our careers with others. Paying it forward works, and we are already realizing that there’s a lot we can learn from our learners as well!“
As the #unleashingexcellence project unfolds, learners are expected to commit to 2 to 4 hours of self-study each week. Job applications are expected in by the 9th of June and the following week all the learners will receive feedback on their CVs and cover letters from the Visualfabriq team.
Mirroring the real-life job application process, 6 candidates will then be short-listed for interviewing and personal feedback sessions. By the end of June, three winners will be chosen and prizes will be awarded to the learners who have executed the Best CV, the Best Cover Letter and the Best Interview.
#unleashingexcellence learners in their own words:
Chirwa Lerato: “I felt good and excited at the kick-off of #unleashingexcellence and that am going to be taught new things in life. I look forward to having more knowledge so that it can build my future.”
Aubrey Mokone: “Our first session was effective and benefiting. I am looking forward to more sessions so that this project can be a tool or key for a better future.”