Internships - a hands-on approach to skills development and application
Internships could be the quickest and most sustainable solution to address South Africa’s growing unemployment problem.
Martina Laurie is the CEO of Hands On Treatment, a mobile massage company based in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
The company has an established in-house training programme that has been running for ten years. It also has a partnership in place with the Services SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority). According to the terms of the partnership the Authority pays a portion of their salary per intern and Hands on Treatment takes in four candidates as trainee therapists per six-month period.
Applicants are predominantly urban women living in informal settlements located within a 20km radius of Craighall, Johannesburg, as well as city centre and Braamfontein.
To date the Company has assisted over 500 women with skills acquisition and employment over a 12 year period.
“South Africa has a huge unemployment rate. Internships are designed to equip people with skills to make them more attractive to the market and give them a better chance of employment,”
Another benefit of this arrangement is that there are processes and procedures in place to instil a professional relationship and safeguard the interests of both parties.
“Sector Education and Training Authorities often place interns at companies and there is a monthly report which is required by the Authority from the intern to ensure fair practices. A representative of the business is normally appointed to mentor and supervise interns that are placed,” Laurie continues.
Emphasis on experience
There are instances in which this arrangement falls way short of the intended objectives and quickly descends into an abusive relationship wherein the intern is simply used and not treated fairly or professionally.
Laurie believes it is important to obviously ensure that this scenario is not allowed to happen and certainly stand up for ones human rights, if need be.
However, the emphasis of this arrangement is on the imparting of skills and experience by a company to an individual who may not be in a position to otherwise seriously or successfully engage the market.
As far as payment or a minimum fee for work is concerned, Laurie believes it really depends on the opportunity, level of skills and experience.
“There is no minimum wage but, typically, it would be from R2000 for certificate bearers and R6000 for graduates,” Laurie adds.