In response to a public outcry and calls for corrective measures in the form of governmental, national and provincial action, corporate South Africa is joining hands to tackle one of South Africa’s greatest social ills – the lack of direction for young men, which is leading them to commit abhorrent acts of violent crime, driven by unemployment, drugs, and alcohol.
In its fifth year, the Men in the Making initiative allows young men to experience a day within the biggest corporate brands in the country, exposing them to different careers and expanding their horizons. For many, the opportunity includes an address by the CEO, job shadowing, team building exercises, a career guidance session and motivational talks.
Tracker launched Men in the Making on 25 March 2009, and the initiative immediately gained support and endorsement from the Department of Basic Education, as it is directly in line with their Boy Education Movement (BEM) School Programme. Of the 150 corporate participants, many of the country’s well-known leaders have joined, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Rand Merchant Bank, First National Bank, Etana Insurance, Outsurance, Hollard, MWEB, Exxaro, SASRIA, Transnet, and Murray & Roberts, to name a few.
In 2009 the event reached 400 students from 35 companies. Growing year-on-year the initiative reached 1400 young men from 150 companies in 2013, creating a total of 5379 young men who had experienced the Men in the Making opportunity over the last five years. Annually the event feeds back positive case studies with images of boys engaging with corporate leaders and executives, with some organisations digging deep to make a connection. For example, SA Express went out of their way to fly boys from Kimberly and Bloemfontein to OR Tambo, to expose them to the aviation industry.
Aside the individual case studies, Tracker also adopted Magaliesburg State High School; a semi-rural community based school that improved its matric pass rate from 66% in 2008 to 84,5% in 2013, with some boys in the programme obtaining distinctions in selected subjects.
Explains Tshego Bokaba, CSI Manager at Tracker, “There is no doubt that young men need the support and environment to enable them to deal with societal pressures and overcome obstacles that could potentially hinder their dreams. The concept was derived from the realisation that the boy-child in South Africa is calling out for attention, help, recognition and acknowledgement as he grapples with the challenges of life and the suppression that he sometimes experiences, especially as more focus and glamour is placed on girl-children.”
She adds, “This private-public partnership with the government, the Department of Basic Education, in particular, will find expressions in other state organs that will help bring the two closer together for a better South Africa. The quality of corporate involvement is truly revealing and shows a growing commitment to ‘get off the fence and lend a hand’ in tackling our country’s biggest issues. The output is that a vast number of young men are making changes in their lives and finding a path – one that leads in the opposite direction to a life of crime, violence or dependency.”
The Men in the Making Day
The main event is scheduled to take place on 27 March. On the day the young men will be assisted in recognising their potential, by giving them an opportunity to experience the workplace, and thus expose them to various career opportunities. Grade 10-12 boys from pre-selected schools will be invited to spend a day at participating companies’ offices. An attempt will be made to match boys’ interests to the activities of the business. Depending on the type of business, companies may structure the day in any way deemed to be appropriate, but should ideally include an address by the chief executive, an explanation of the business, some exposure to the various positions available at the company, guidance on potential study paths to gain entry to such a business, an address by a career/life skills counsellor and some fun activities involving the staff. Participating companies will be supplied with project guidelines, disclaimer forms and participation certificate templates.