19 December 2008 ORT South Africa unbowed by economic recession The deteriorating economy has placed ORT South Africa under pressure to meet its target of finding jobs for at least 70 per cent of its Work Readiness Programme graduates. Although more than 20 of the programmes 100 graduates have already been placed in work, mainly in the finance sector, ORT SA National Director Michael Sieff admits that it will be a major challenge to find openings for the rest by the April deadline but he remains unbowed. The training is complete and now our main focus is to find our graduates employment talking to companies, arranging interviews and a little bit of retraining, Mr Sieff said. But some major employers have already told us that they have stopped recruiting so meeting the target will be more difficult for sure. We still think well be able to achieve it, as far as ORT SAs concerned we are determined to place far more than 70 per cent, even if it means going for smaller businesses looking for entry level people. We are not about to give up on our students. The intensive, five-week programme at ORT Johannesburg training centre catered to previously disadvantaged learners with recognised accounting and finance qualifications. It has equipped them with skills that supplement their technical knowledge and enable them to succeed in high stress corporate environments while helping to address what had been, until the recession, a desperate shortage of accounting skills in the country. The course was run by ORT SA and Fasset, the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services, in cooperation with the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants. Fasset Project Manager Tania Lee (pictured, right, with, from left, Michael Sieff, Fasset CEO Cheryl James, and top student Nokubonga Duntsu).accentuated the positive at the final graduation breakfast, held recently. As beneficiaries of this project there are high expectations that you will do well and that you will become not only good, but excellent ambassadors for this project, for Fasset and ORT as well as for the employers who will employ you and last but not least for yourselves and your families, Ms Lee said. She thanked ORT for its implementation the Fasset-funded programme, saying: It is by virtue of the passion of those employed at ORT that has made this programme a resounding success. Despite future challenges, Mr Sieff is happy with the positive feedback from graduates and sponsors. The programme had, he said, exceeded all expectations, adding: It has been a privilege to have been a part of this journey and we are looking forward to seeing the impact these graduates will make on their future employers and to South Africa as a whole. He has been similarly pleased by the performance of two other major programmes which ORT SA has been running this year, providing teachers in impoverished communities on the outskirts of Johannesburg with training in mathematics, science and technology. ORT SA recently celebrated the first year of its ORT SEED (Sustainable Educator Empowerment and Development) project in Soweto, which deals with management leadership as well as training and supporting teachers in the fields of Maths, Science and Technology. The project provides 86 educators and 18 outreach schools in the township with courses and workshops at the anchor school, Makhoarane Primary, in cooperation with the Gauteng Department of Education. At the celebration, Caren Rennie, Head of Marketing and Client Care at Citadel Investment Services, which co-sponsors the project with fellow wealth management group Peregrine, said that Citadel was living out its dream through ORT SA. And she thanked the educators for taking the opportunity to grow, urging them not to underestimate the change they are making in South African education. Teachers from this year are due to continue their involvement in the project for another two years with the aim of achieving an Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) while a new intake of teachers next year will focus on enhancing their knowledge and skills in implementing technology in the classroom. In nearby Alexandra the township where Nelson Mandela lived as a young man ORT SA has the backing of the Bidvest international services, trading and distribution company for the training of Foundation Phase educators in numeracy teaching. The project involves all 12 primary schools in the township. This year, the project worked with Grade 1 teachers, will work with Grade 2 teachers next year and Grade 3 teachers in 2010 while providing support for teachers in all these grades over the next two years. We are challenging teachers to grow and possibly to change their approach to teaching. We are taking them on a journey of discovery and building their confidence as they increase their knowledge of maths and strengthen their teaching skills, Mr Sieff said. I am very pleased that our projects in Alexandra and Soweto have not only met the objectives set for them but in some ways have exceeded them. The result is better qualified teachers who will contribute to the emergence of a better educated, higher achieving South Africa. The Alexandra project, which is also being implemented in close cooperation with the Gauteng Department of Education, is based on the experience gained by ORT SA through an intervention programme it started in the township in 2004. In that time, ORT SA trained 75 Foundation Phase educators from 11 local schools in maths and science, benefiting some 10,000 students.