Sustainability report  


The group’s focus on building and developing people remained unchanged during the 2008 financial year. It is a core value of the group and it extends to both our own employees and to the group’s corporate social investment programme.

Reunert College >

Amidst growing concerns that South Africa’s education system is not delivering students who are capable of entering the South African economy, indications are that the curriculum changes which are in the process of being introduced will be difficult to implement. The shortage of suitably qualified students who passed mathematics and science at secondary school level remains a serious concern for the future of our society. We are hopeful, nevertheless, that the problem is receiving serious attention as a skills shortage no doubt will have serious consequences for job creation and for ensuring a stable and successful society.

Having anticipated that a skills shortage was looming, in particular the technical skills required to compete in local and overseas markets, the Reunert College was established in 1993. The college provides specialised tuition to students from previously disadvantaged communities to improve their matriculation results for mathematics, science, English and accounting, and possible employment in Reunert and/or other companies that are sponsors of Reunert College. To date almost R25 million has been spent to promote employment through the education system provided by the college.

A record intake of 84 students was achieved in 2008 bringing the total number of students who have attended the college since inception to almost 700. The number of individual bursaries awarded to former college students to enable them to attend tertiary education will be reaching 400 by December 2008. It is encouraging that we have, over the last few years, been able to find gainful employment for those who may not have received bursaries. This we believe could be ascribed to the high standard of tuition which students enjoy at the college. Last year the group was able to absorb more than 20 students who did not have a tertiary education and it is expected that we may be able to place another 25 students in 2009.

Most of the students who have completed their tertiary education through bursaries received from the college are currently employed as engineers, technicians, accountants and marketing executives.

This year an alumni society for former college students was formed, and the first function was attended by more than 100 previous students who are all employed, many in senior positions. The aim of this society is to inspire others and to demonstrate the enormous potential available in the townships of South Africa.

The college provides a solution-based education process which is aimed at ensuring that all participants will be able to secure employment. This approach has evolved over many years and is characterised by a number of key success factors that assist in achieving the ultimate goal of being successfully employed. These factors include:
  • A life skills course that enables students from townships to adapt to a business environment;
  • Providing ongoing coaching and mentorship based on international best practice;
  • Initiatives to ensure students understand the concept of competition;
  • Equipping students to manage their personal lives and respect business norms; and
  • Providing bursaries to attend tertiary institutions.

This all-embracing system – which includes a formal selection process, bridging education, vocational work at company premises, bursaries and mentoring/coaching – creates a total solution of which creating employment remains the most important objective.

As part of our approach, control mechanisms are in place to ensure that students are not only employed, but keep their jobs. For this reason, students are drawn close to their prospective employer from an early stage. This creates loyalty which, together with a reasonable understanding of how to manage a career, has made it possible to reduce labour turnover considerably.

In 2007 a pilot project was undertaken to train young black sales people with the view of placing them in the Reunert group. This initiative has resulted in the Reunert Sales Academy. Of the 2007 intake of 12 candidates, only one person was not ultimately employed in the group. However, the candidate was successfully placed at another company. A total of 14 individuals were enrolled for the programme in 2008.

This programme is aimed at assisting those who were not able to receive a bursary from the college but, nevertheless, have the aptitude and profile for successfully entering the sales environment. A number of tests were developed to identify these individuals.

In 2008 Nashua Mobile engaged 14 college matriculants as potential call-centre operators. A basic language laboratory was established at the college to assist the students to communicate effectively with customers. This skill, together with the sound mathematics and science background provided for by the college, has resulted in Nashua Mobile being able to employ all the students.

It is planned that a further 20 students will join Nashua Mobile in early 2009. Discussions are currently under way with Panasonic Business Systems that may hopefully result in their participation in a programme to fulfil recruitment needs in 2009.

The ongoing support of our BEE partner, Peotona, has stood the college in good stead. Their commitment to the college and sound understanding of the college methodology and underlying values, has enabled Peotona to attract a number of sponsors who are currently sponsoring students at the college. This year Standard Bank sponsored 40 students and indications are that they will sponsor another 40 in 2009. It is anticipated that the bank, together with Reunert, will provide bursary facilities for deserving students who will complete their studies at the college in 2009. The JSE sponsored five students this year and we are hopeful that their sponsorship will continue during 2009. We have concluded an agreement with the Zenex Foundation, who have agreed to sponsor 15 students annually, for a period of three years commencing in 2009.

It is possible for matriculants to write an exam under the previous curriculum in June/July 2009 and, for this reason the college identified the opportunity to have an early intake of 17 students in October 2008. Exams will be written in June/ July 2009.

Since 2000 the Reunert College staff has invested their own time in a service-training intervention named WeGo that is held on a monthly basis at the college. Teachers from surrounding townships are invited to participate in training sessions in mathematics, science, accounting and English. This assisted them to foster even better relations with surrounding township residents and also to improve the quality of students who may apply for enrolment at the college.

This year the college assisted schools in the East Rand who were experiencing delays in the supply of paper. Through the intervention of Nashua Office Automation, the college was able to supply the schools with paper at a reduced price and within a short period of time.

The principals in the surrounding township schools participate in a principals forum, which is held every two months at the Reunert College. Altogether 19 township schools are currently taking part in the initiative. We are encouraged by the strong cooperation which exists between all the role players, as we believe this is a crucial prerequisite for meaningfully improving the schooling system in a short period of time. The strength of this relationship is illustrated by the 701 applications for the 2009 academic year that the college has received almost six months before applications are normally due. All the applicants have indicated a desire to study mathematics.

In our experience, most students are interested in studying mathematics and, provided they receive the correct tuition, their progress in general has been remarkable.

Apart from playing an important role in the Reunert employment equity programme, college staff are required to control, implement and monitor skills in the group. They are also largely responsible for adult basic education and employee training. A high standard of skills development and training has been maintained throughout the group, with the college principal serving as the group human resources development manager and coordinator of the group training and development forum. During the training year, Reunert employees participate in a group training programme – it is estimated that 62% of these trainees are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

The college’s ground-breaking work continues to be recognised by the National Board for Further Education and Training as well as the South African Qualifications Authority. Also the college principal, Marina Gunter, is serving a third term on the National Skills Authority, the highest authority for skills development in South Africa. She is also a member of the National Board for Further Education and Training, deputy chair of the Committee for Training and Development for Business South Africa, and serves on the CHAMSA Committee for Training and Development. In addition, she is a professional certified coach, mentor, assessor and trainer with the International Coach Federation. There are only nine such individuals in South Africa.

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