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‘the golden key’ to getting young people out of the starting blocks

You get a matric, but then what? You study towards a vocation, but then what? Lacking the necessary support systems, so many young people flounder early in their careers, which is what makes Good Work Foundation’s Ecosystem of Learning and Working so vital in a jobs-poor country like South Africa.

Kathleen Hay says, programme manager of the non-profit’s Travel & Tourism Academy, “The world of work can be an incredibly bewildering and lonely place, and it’s so difficult to build a network and get connected with the right people when you’re starting out.

“That’s why we came up with a holistic model that builds a close-knit community or ‘tribe’ to nurture young graduates through that all-important transition between learning, training and work, and beyond. It’s a golden key that unlocks opportunities for them.”

GWF, which operates six digital learning campuses across rural Mpumalanga and the Free State, runs a highly sought-after one-year subsidised Bridging Year Academy course that enables young people to bridge the gap between school and tertiary education or a job by equipping them with computer skills and sharpening up their English fluency.

Besides this, through various vocation-based academies, GWF offers these young people further training in areas such as hospitality, information technology and conservation – skills that are in demand in rural areas because of their employment potential in the tourism and business process outsourcing fields.

GWF also enters into partnerships with establishments such as local game lodges to get these graduates placed in internships and, often, full-time employment – supporting them on each step of their learning and career journeys.

Some of the graduates are even reabsorbed back into GWF’s growing team – as facilitators or staff on the various campuses, or as IT support agents at its social enterprise, VillageUp, a business process outsourcing centre working on a number of national and international clients.

Plus, GWF’s Open Learning Academy programme introduces Grade 3s and 4s to coding and robotics, while strengthening their English and mathematics literacy skills, to prepare them for the 21st-century workplace – further adding to its ecosystem of impact.

“It’s like one big extended family that keeps on growing,” says Hay.

Never give up! Dansile Bulunga, Vezokuhle Hlabane and Ayanda Dube, GWF Bridging Year Academy and Hospitality Academy graduates who are now working at Hippo Hollow in Hazyview.


Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

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