Mentorship, the key to impactful skills development

Johannesburg – Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey may have brought the concept of paying it forward to the big screens – but in Africa, it’s an ideal that has been lived and breathed for many eons; Ubuntu. Literally meaning humanity to others, the spirit of Ubuntu is that ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’; a call for us to help, guide, motivate and encourage one another – and the ultimate drive for mentorship and coaching.

The Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset) has taken up the call for Ubuntu, the need to pay it forward, by enlisting its Alumni to mentor and support learners in the sector. “We have reached out to our previous beneficiaries to volunteer their time to support and mentor learners in their immediate communities, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” confirms Cheryl James, Fasset Chief Executive Officer.

The Fasset’s Alumni strategy entails enlisting volunteers to: give career awareness talks to high school learners in their communities; coach and mentor a student at a University, Technical Vocational Education and Training Institution, or a University of Technology; tutor Maths and/or Accounting to grade 10 to 12 learners; and to share your career development story – especially to rural areas, where the need for career awareness information is dire.

The Alumni strategy was developed in line with one of the outcomes in the National Skills Development Strategy III (NSDS). “Fasset’s approach to this outcome stretches far beyond just delivering a printed career guide,” confirms James. “It is our aim that the Alumni strategy will make Fasset available to ordinary South Africans, targeting bridging programmes, bursary holders, and past learnership beneficiaries to provide career guidance services to learners.”

A pilot programme will be run in the 2016/17 financial year (FY) nationally. For those living in rural communities, access to information is a challenge, and these communities will now receive special attention through the Fasset Alumni career awareness programme.

The pilot programme will serve to test the strategy and iron out any wrinkles prior to the national launch in April 2017. “If we are able to sign up 30 alumni volunteers in the 2016/17 financial year, a total of 120 interventions will be achieved,” confirms James. “While the mentee’s benefits are clear – learning and development – the mentors (Alumni) will benefit through the programme too.”

According to the Alumni strategy document, Alumni volunteers will be given the opportunity to share their career development stories with the learners, giving motivational talks and motivating the youth to action. They will also act as Fasset brand ambassadors, and receive a letter of recommendation from Fasset at the end of the reporting period.

“We are dealing with the coaching and mentoring of the future financial leaders of our nation – and for that reason it is essential that volunteers are 100 percent committed to the programme. This is not a task to be taken lightly – it involves the guiding of another’s destiny – but what a rewarding task it can be!” concludes James.