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According to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, thousands of young people graduate every year but most end up sitting at home due to a lack of internship opportunities. "That is why we have been calling on all employers, both public and private, to open their workplace so that our youngsters can be absorbed and acquire real work experience."

Internship programmes that equip young people with hands-on experience are vital for ensuring their long-term employability and for supporting the country's skills development and job-creation efforts. We have always employed students in their practical year of studies and select deserving individuals for study bursaries to be followed by employment with the company on completion of their chosen course.

Five students indentured

In spite of the downturn in the construction industry, GVK has continued its training and bursary programmes. In 2012, the company indentured five students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) who are studying towards their degrees in Construction Management and Quantity Surveying.

Of her internship Sinenhlanhla Mndaba, a 22-year-old from a township in Richard's Bay, said: "I got to experience site life, which was great. I feel like I am more prepared for the industry. The experience will better enable me to become a good quantity surveyor or project manager."

"I wouldn't have learnt what I have from a book," said intern Eli Feni, whose love for all things building-related led him to pursue a career in the industry. "Through working with my mentor I have been exposed to more than I ever thought I would have learned."

With his grandfather and father both being builders, it is unsurprising that 23-year-old Mugammad Bux was born with a love for construction. On completion of his studies, he hopes to fulfil his dream of working as a site manager. Thanks to his internship, he says he now knows what he needs to do to achieve this aim.

Tembela Mpata, from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, was selected to take part in the "Go for Gold" campaign, which affords disadvantaged youths with opportunities to develop technical skills, build confidence and receive hands-on training in preparation for a career in the construction industry. "Before my internship at GVK I had a theoretical understanding of the industry, but now I have been shown how things are really done. By implementing what I've learnt here I hope to become a project manager and manage my own projects one day."

"My knowledge and skills have increased and I have been inspired to become more involved in the industry," revealed 24-year-old Andrea Stewart, whose aptitude for project management saw her being given several responsibilities on a R53-million site.

More opportunities in 2013

During 2013, GVK will be offering more CPUT students the opportunity to gain workplace experience. Among them are Keenan Adams, Zubayr Anwary and Bruce Muller.

Regarding his expectations of the forthcoming internship, Adams shared: "I expect to learn the skills that will prepare me for future challenges in both quantity surveying and project management. GVK has been in the industry for over 50 years so there is much that I can learn."

Eighteen-year old Anwary said: "I hope to gain as much experience as possible in all areas of construction from tendering to measuring on site."

Muller, whose interest in construction was piqued when a family member built his house from scratch, concurred with his peers, stating: "I want to learn how to become a successful project manager and believe that there is much that GVK can teach me."

Over the years our internship programme has yielded some exceptional individuals who contribute to our future senior management recruitment pool. Furthermore the programme ensures that our specialist skills and experience are handed down to the next generation; thereby continuing GVK's success for years to come.

By: Richard Williams

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