In honour of Women’s Day, PPS today announced Marlene Cronje as the winner of the PPS Professional Woman of the Year (PWOTY) award. As part of the award, Cronje was presented with a R50 000 donation towards her non-profit organisation ‘Go for Gold’, which assists disadvantaged children in schools to obtain the necessary education, skills and opportunities to enter the construction / engineering industry.
According to Zimkhitha Saungweme, Social Media Executive at PPS and chairperson of the judging panel, the PWOTY award aims to acknowledge a female PPS graduate professional member who has made an outstanding effort to contribute towards increasing levels of employment in a particular community, especially among the youth.
Saungweme says that PPS became aware of several job-creation initiatives driven by PPS members. “As a response to this, PPS established the competition to further assist those women who are making a difference in their communities. In addition to this, the company also realised that the high rate of unemployment is a major concern for graduate professionals in the country – based on our Professional Confidence Index, a quarterly survey conducted among over 200 000 PPS members.”
Cronje, Chairman of Go for Gold, assisted in expanding the programme with the help of other stakeholders within the construction industry and the Department of Education in the Western Cape. “The purpose of the programme is to address the critical skills shortage within the construction industry, as well as to support learners from disadvantaged communities by assisting with education and employment opportunities.”
Go for Gold consists of four phases, with the first phase of the project starting with Grade 11 learners. Learners are given extra Mathematics, Science, Computing and Life Skills classes, with the aim of helping them improve their Grade 12 / Matric results. In the second phase learners will start working at one of the programme’s partner companies to gain work experience. The third phase involves tertiary education to provide opportunities of further education to the learners and the fourth phase assists in the placement of the learners into places of employment.
“Since our launch in 1999, we have assisted more than 400 students to obtain the skills required to enter the construction industry,” added Cronje. “Together with 24 partnering companies, we are supporting young people from disadvantaged communities with the necessary training to help them become employable. We are also very proud to say that 80% of our Grade 12’s passed their year with merit and 80% of our students passed their studies at tertiary institutions in the minimum period.”
As part of the entry process for the Awards, nominees had to show how the R50 000 would be used to make a meaningful difference in the success of their respective initiatives. In addition to the financial award, PPS will also be offering free financial planning services to the winning project.
Cronje says that the R50 000 prize will be used to assist the expansion and development of the project to the Gauteng area. “We have entered into an agreement with the Gauteng Department of Education and we hope to open our first Gauteng campus in 2015.”
“We are thrilled that we can assist Cronje with her initiative and trust that the award will boost the industry in which she operates, as well as motivate other women out there to develop and drive similar initiatives that promote skills development and employment,” says Saungweme.
Dr Nobs Mwanda and Christine du Preez, the PWOTY runner up award winners, will also receive R10 000 each to be used towards their respective projects: Copessa, a project aimed at preventing child abuse and providing clinical services and assessments to all children who have been abused, and Hlokomela, an HIV and AIDS education and treatment programme operating in Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province.
Applicants of the PWOTY were judged by a panel that included Saungweme as the chairperson, Kerisha Bhoola, Chair:Actuarial Women’s Committee at the Association of SA Black Actuarial Professionals (ASABA), Zama Khanyile, Board member of the African Woman Chartered Accountants (AWCA), Dr Dominique Stott, Executive: Medical Standards and Services at PPS, Kim Austin, Head of Sales Training and Development at PPS and Macy Seperepere, Professional Association Manager at PPS.