Interns at our South African partner company learn important lessons for their work and for life in general.
Directech is our exclusive sales partner in South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, the company specialises in automation, industrial robot solutions and tool making. This year, 16 young people who are studying mechanical engineering, marketing and business are taking part in a newly designed, in-depth internship programme designed to give them “on-the-job” training. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at the concept and introduce two participants.
Young people getting involved
Despite strenuous efforts, youth unemployment is still shockingly high in South Africa. In 2015 it hit 51.5 percent (men: 47.1 percent; women 56.9 percent). Directech is well aware of the situation and is determined to live up to its social responsibilities. Two individuals are appointed to look after each intern: one is a head of department who takes the role of supervisor, the other is a contact from Business Development who acts as a mentor. Directech takes the concept of mentoring very seriously, which is why the interns themselves are also urged to be active role models for younger people, particularly younger relatives who often live far away in economically underdeveloped regions.
A virtual company
The programme centres on work in a fictional company, fictional in the sense that it is not registered and doesn’t sell any products, either. However, it’s not a game – quite the opposite in fact: Internally, the company is treated as if it actually exists. Every participant heads up a department as appropriate to their area of expertise and is given all the relevant authorisations. Additional training measures are implemented in parallel to help them exercise their duties, such as courses on aspects such as social skills, finances, ethics and etiquette. Each participant working in mechanical engineering must also select a product that they will then oversee closely.
Once the product is in place, the first job is to put together a business plan, a task with a great deal of practical relevance. If Directech is not able to offer interns a job, it provides solid support in helping them gain their independence. In that sense, the fictional company is designed to help interns get fit for the future – both their own and that of South Africa. To put it more precisely, they are being trained as future entrepreneurs who will go on to create jobs.
Introducing two interns
Lenny Matome Ramaselele has come a long way in his internship. Not only is he an assistant to the Product Manager for our profiles, he is also the Managing Director of the fictional company and has already worked on the Directech trade fair stand twice. However, Lenny’s prospects were anything but rosy at the outset. He seemed to be plagued by bad luck – barely had he arrived in Johannesburg than he was robbed, sustaining injuries during the mugging. However, intensive one-to-one meetings and a step-by-step approach to major tasks have helped him continuously build his confidence. He is no longer hiding his light under a bushel – he is realising his full potential.
Ayanda Mqamzana didn’t have things easy, either. Despite training in automation technology, she hadn’t been able to find a job in the sector and had to scrape by. Generally speaking, it is exceptionally hard for women in South Africa to break into this male-dominated sector. What’s more, Ayanda’s family were previously dependent on her work as their sole financial income. That made it very difficult if her wages were paid even a little late, as so much depended on them. Once Ayanda had completed a refresher course in automation at Directech, she was finally able to show everyone what she is capable of. Her perseverance and thirst for knowledge are hugely valued by her colleagues.