- P2million invested in programme so far
- Aim is Graduate Centre for Professional Practice
In response to ever-rising youth unemployment, Estate Construction (Pty) Ltd started a graduate programme to produce market-ready professionals in 2016 and has so far invested approximately P2 million in the initiative.
For Tshenolo Sesowa, an Occupational Health and Safety graduate from Boitekanelo College, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. She is among 28 freshmen in the current cohort of the Estate Construction Graduate Programme.
Sesowa always preferred challenging duties in her previous internship at a power station in Gumare. At Estate Construction she is part of a team that is on site building Hotel 4:30 at the Gaborone Central Business District (CBD).
“I consider myself very fortunate to have been selected for this programme because most industry experience is merely through three-month internships that don’t give maximum exposure,” she says. “This is an opportunity for me to build myself into the SHE officer that I ultimately want to be.”
The Construction Estate Graduate Programme has to-date produced 40 graduates, 12 of whom have full time jobs. The mismatch between industry expectations of work experience of three years and/or above and what tertiary institutions teach is what makes the programme an invaluable intervention.
Maynard Kandaya, Estate Construction’s Contracts Manager, explains: “We help the graduates to become employable. The three years or above work experience requirement by employers is usually unobtainable for fresh graduates while the universities are busy sending graduates into the economy year after year. On the other hand, the industry is busy providing services and products to the economy but only with experienced professionals.”
Another graduate of Estate Construction’s on-hands programme is Omphemetse Sebangane, a civil engineer who has been on attachment at Kanye Sewerage project since March this year. Sebangane describes the mentorship programme as constructive and worthwhile.
The programme is structured in such a way that at the end of its three years, the graduate is ready for the job market and can register with regulatory bodies of their respective professions such as the Engineers Registration Board (ERB).
In the first year, interns are taken through survival skills that cover living within one’s means, taking instructions and working under someone, discipline, how to complete tasks, and learning relevant industry laws. In the second year, they are taught the value teamwork or being a team player. The third year is dedicated to impartation of supervisory and management skills.
To ensure that the skills acquired are recognised in the market, the programme is administered through accredited trainers and institutions. The skills are tailored to strike a balance between the interns’ social and professional lives so that they are groomed into well-rounded professionals.
Kandaya says Estate Construction has an ambitious plan for the programme and that the company’s ultimate goal is establishment of a Graduate Centre for Professional Practice where graduates will be housed under one roof to practice production, innovation and manufacturing. In its quest to give back to the nation and further contribute to a thriving construction industry, Estate Construction recognizes the need to collaborate with stakeholders such as institutions of higher learning that produce graduates.
According to Kandaya, discussions to enter into formal agreements with the institutions are underway. The programme has attracted civil engineers, occupational health and safety and real estate property management graduates who have either been absorbed by the Estate Group or are employed elsewhere while more graduates such as architects, mechanical and electrical engineers continue to show interest.
Some of Estate Construction’s employees who have been through the programme are currently in challenging roles and are climbing up the professional ladder with relative ease. These include Marang Isaacs, who is now an Office Manager spearheading the Graduate Programme; Tshegofatso Nkwe, a Property Manager; Ofentse Mangwai and Tommy Nzamani, Site Engineers; Chandapiwa France, a Human Resource Officer; Mpho Rowland, Project Management; and Thatayaone Bojosi, Mechanic.
Kandaya says these graduates of Estate Construction’s Graduate Programme have continued to pursue further studies in their respective professions with the financial assistance of their employer.