Building and developing people

For more than a decade, the Reunert group has placed particular emphasis on building and developing people – from our own employees to those involved in the group’s corporate social investment programme.

Reunert College

The ability of employees to succeed in today’s technically-orientated work environment increasingly depends on their understanding of mathematical and computation science and their application in a practical environment. The college provides specialised tuition to assist students from previously disadvantaged communities to improve their matriculation results for mathematics, science, English and accounting. In developing these students, Reunert’s ultimate intention is to be in a position to offer them employment. Since inception in 1993, approximately R16 million has been spent on the Reunert College.

To date, more than 500 students have graduated from the college and over 400 bursaries awarded to enable students to study at tertiary institutions. Part of the programme’s success is the close interaction between students and the college through an ongoing mentoring system, which includes the opportunity for vocational work at company operations. This interaction is aimed at ensuring that critical skills are retained within the group.

More than 50 individuals who have attended tertiary institutions through the college programme are currently employed in the group, mostly in junior managerial positions. Another 90 former students are employed in other companies, including those which were previously part of the Reunert group.

Most students qualified in industrial engineering, electrical engineering and information technology.

The Reunert College is accredited for experiential training by the Witwatersrand, Vaal Triangle and Tshwane universities of technology. The college is also an examination centre registered with the Gauteng Department of Education and the Independent Examination Board.

Aside from a pivotal role in the group’s employment equity programme, college staff are required to control, implement and monitor skills development programmes in the group and, to a large extent, they take responsibility for adult basic education and training for employees. The standard of skills development and training is maintained at a high level throughout the group, with the college principal serving as the group human resources development manager and coordinator of the group training and development forum.

For a number of years, the Reunert College has interacted with disadvantaged schools in the Boksburg and Alberton areas in Gauteng. Further training and education is provided to teachers, particularly those responsible for mathematics, science and English. This programme could be expanded in collaboration with the Department of Education.

The groundbreaking work which takes place at the college was recognised this year by the National Board for Further Education and Training as well as the South African Qualifications Authority. The college principal, Marina Gunter, was recently elected to a second term on the National Skills Authority (NSA), which is the highest authority for skills development in the country. She also heads a number of specialist task teams in the NSA and serves on numerous organisational committees such as Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the AHI as well as the executive councils of the National Board for Further Education and Training and Work Skills South Africa.

The Department of Education has noted the successes achieved by Reunert College and, with the support of a number of large employer bodies, discussions are currently taking place to expand the college as part of a joint programme between business and the Department of Education.


The Reunert employee mentorship programme, introduced in 2003, has proved highly successful. This programme enables less experienced employees to benefit from the structured coaching of experienced employees. The aim is to retain and develop high-performing staff, and particularly to attract and retain high-calibre staff from previously disadvantaged communities. The programme assists in integrating new members of staff, and is instrumental in the development and promotion of existing members of staff. To date, 225 employees have participated in the Reunert mentorship programme and their progress is constantly monitored through employee satisfaction reviews.

As part of a scientific and integrated approach to mentorship, both mentors and protégés attend an initial training programme which is the framework for future development. To enable employees to effectively focus on what they want to achieve in their careers, the programme concentrates on assisting employees to understand themselves and their relationship with others. The aim is to coach employees to understand effectiveness in a business context and how to continually improve their skills.

As a large number of these participants will hopefully take part in accelerated development programmes, significant emphasis is placed on how to achieve equity with integrity and to understand the correlation between work output and remuneration.

We are particularly pleased by the subsequent achievements of those who attended the programme, not only in their renewed enthusiasm for career development, but by the significant individual development and including promotions that were achieved. Equally important, the programme helps retain high levels of skills and enhances productivity and self-esteem.

Other training activities

African Cables, in partnership with the Riverside High School in Vereeniging, has sponsored a Saturday school since 1994 to provide supplementary and remedial tuition in English, mathematics and science. This initiative was prompted by the low numbers of children from previously disadvantaged communities who pass mathematics and science at secondary school level. To date, African Cables has assisted 522 children through the Saturday school.

African Cables recently formed a partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education to initially train 25 educators who will provide safety workshops to businesses aimed at meeting the requirements of the Occupational Safety Act.

ATC, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg and Telkom, has formed a centre of excellence in optical fibre research. Aside from providing technical and operational information, ATC sponsors the centre to the value of R100 000 per annum. ATC has also formed a relationship with Orbit Technical College in Brits (North West province) to provide students with practical training at ATC. The majority of these students are able to find employment with ATC after completing their practical training.

Panasonic has continued its involvement with the upgrade and restoration of the Mhlontlo Senior Secondary School in Mount Fletcher, Eastern Cape.



A number of schools in the Midrand area, Gauteng, are benefiting from the involvement of Nashua Mobile which has sponsored the establishment of development centres, computer centres and feeding schemes. By 2006, the first students assisted by Nashua Mobile will qualify for bursaries to complete their tertiary education.

Since 1985, CBI has participated in the commercial advancement training scheme (CATS). This is recognised as an NQF5 qualification after completion of a two-year study and experiential training period. Many CATS trainees have successfully continued their studies and either achieved a bachelor of technology (BTech) degree or a national diploma in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or finance. One of the students who graduated in 2004 has been offered employment at CBI.


In addition to Reunert College bursaries, many Reunert companies have their own established bursary schemes for employees’ children and for disadvantaged children.

ATC provides learning opportunities to 51 previously disadvantaged learners through its bursary scheme, at a cost of R400 000 per annum. Forty-seven bursary holders are enrolled at tertiary institutions, four in secondary schools and one pupil attends a school for the physically disabled. Children of deceased employees are also assisted with educational needs.

Over the past nine years, African Cables has granted 283 bursaries of which more than 90% were awarded to previously disadvantaged children. Assistance is also provided to employees in the form of study loans.



Employment equity

All Reunert companies maintain established employment equity plans and forums in terms of the Employment Equity Act of 1998. Most of these plans were formulated and are managed in conjunction with employee representatives of business units. The Reunert College continues to serve as a primary source of employees from previously disadvantaged communities. At least 20 former students were employed during 2005 and we anticipate that between ten and 15 will be employed during 2006.

The group’s approach to employment equity is part of an integrated plan aimed at ensuring a constant stream of new entrants to the college and the retention of skills through the Reunert mentorship programme. These activities emphasise developing young people from previously disadvantaged communities and all interventions, including the level of funds contributed by group companies, are monitored monthly.

Black economic empowerment

Progress was made with the group’s black economic empowerment (BEE) programme during the year.

Strategic BEE partners have been introduced into certain Reunert subsidiaries.

Kgorong Investment Holdings currently holds 10% of Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) and 30% of RDL Technologies (RDL), with two seats on each board including the chairmanship of RDL. Powerhouse Utilities holds a 25,1% share in ATC (which includes African Cables) and two seats on the ATC board. Many Nashua franchises are introducing BEE partners, and approximately ten transactions are likely to be completed before the end of 2006.

During the last year, Nashua Kopano was established with a black empowerment group holding 26% of the shares and two seats on the Kopano board, one of which is the executive chairman and the other board member is deputy managing director. Approximately 70% of Nashua sales in 2006 are expected to be made through empowered companies.

Outsourcing and assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises

Over the last decade, Reunert companies have dedicated considerable effort to creating small and medium-sized businesses and promoting business activities in previously disadvantaged communities.

Since 2002, African Cables has helped Bogabane Engineering to establish itself as a small engineering business in the Vaal Triangle. Bogabane specialises in maintenance work for industrial companies in the area, as well as engraving embossing wheels. Bogabane will probably have to invest in more machinery during 2006 as the business is expanding rapidly.

For the 2005 academic year, African Cables has awarded 26 bursaries to children of current employees at a total value of R112 000.

African Cables established a small enterprise, Atlehang Ma Africa, which specialises in battening cable drums. In addition, Doocks Construction is responsible for rewinding galvanised wire used in the production process at African Cables. Another small empowerment company, Xylo, was established to recover scrap metal generated during the production process.

Through its small, medium and macro enterprise (SMME) initiatives, African Cables has established 83 jobs in businesses with a combined revenue of approximately R5 million per annum.

During 2005, more than 12% of ATC’s sales were channelled through BEE distributors. ATC provides focused training to BEE cable installers in programmes accredited with national training bodies. ATC also provides a skills transfer programme to its SMME distributors, including market intelligence and technical assistance in project-related solutions. To assist with the establishment of selected BEE distributors, ATC makes consignment stock available. During 2005, more than 50% of all ATC’s procurement, excluding imported materials and copper, was made from previously disadvantaged suppliers. All non-core business activities such as canteen services, security, gardening and cleaning are sourced from BEE suppliers.

RDL is providing factory space to a black-owned company –Bogkone Projects (Pty) Limited – and assists it with various installation work, including project management and bridging finance.

Aids and health services

All group companies have introduced an Aids policy based on a guideline issued by Reunert Limited. It is group policy not to discriminate against anybody who may be HIV positive. The strategy is aimed at educating employees about the importance of preventing this potentially fatal medical condition. All employees who have tested HIV positive are counselled.

Although the group focuses mainly on educating children, many Reunert companies are playing a major role in the wider community by helping to reduce the plight of Aids sufferers. Following its success with Nkosi’s Haven, a home for Aids orphans and children living with Aids, Nashua is also supporting the Banakekeleni Haven on the outskirts of Alexandra. The haven is home to a number of HIV-positive patients and Aids orphans, and provides home-based care in Alexandra to Aids orphans and destitute children.

ATC participates in the activities of the Madibeng centre for research. This centre conducts medical research in rural areas on all health-threatening diseases and aims to provide research material to improve the health conditions of people in these areas. The project is also supported by the University of Pretoria, local government, local medical practitioners and other businesses. One of the projects currently under way will determine the health-related reasons for absenteeism in the Madibeng area, which is


close to ATC’s Brits factory. ATC provides computer services, office equipment and security equipment to the centre.

As part of ATC’s programme to assist with Aids awareness and treatment, the company and its staff have adopted the Tumelong hospice in Madidi (North West province). ATC provides medical equipment, financial support, food and clothing to the hospice.

Support for community projects

Reunert group companies contribute meaningfully to a variety of organisations, especially those who provide food and shelter, education and training and assistance to victims of the Aids pandemic.

Since 2001, Panasonic has been involved with the Twilight shelter in Johannesburg, which accommodates 60 homeless youngsters between the ages of 9 and 21. Children selected for the Panasonic mentoring programme are assisted with tertiary education and helped to complete practical training modules through Panasonic. During 2005, Panasonic supported the fundraising endeavours of St Francis hospice and Lerato Love Home and made sizeable donations to a number of care centres.

Human resources

The group’s corporate social investment, employment equity, BEE and all other social activities have been integrated into its human resources strategies and activities.

The Reunert College coordinates the skills development programme in each group company. College employees are responsible for introducing the group’s mentorship programme. This approach helps college students progress from being learners to employees, and provides ongoing growth and development for existing Reunert staff who participate in the programme.

The group skills development forum meets four times a year and coordinates all group skills development. The targets for skills development, as set out in the national skills development strategy





(NSDS), are discussed at this forum. All Reunert companies have contributed substantially to this strategy.

All skills-related legislation and standards are discussed at the forum to ensure Reunert companies keep abreast of current skills-development policy and practices.

During 2005, the Minister of Labour accepted the investor in people (IIP) standard as the quality standard for developing human resources in South Africa. Two representatives of the Reunert skills development forum have attended training courses for the IIP standard. Four Reunert group companies have registered to participate in the people standard programme.

African Cables is currently at the forefront of skills development in South Africa and is accredited by the Merseta (industry training authority) and the Telecommunications and Cable Association as a trainer in learnerships in NQF levels one to four. The company has been instrumental in developing the unistandard for an NQF1 learnership.

In 1988, the group launched a long-term skills assessment programme to more accurately determine individual training needs at senior level and to identify future management potential as part of ongoing succession planning. To date, approximately 200 employees have been assessed. Our intention is to assess at least 30 senior managers a year for further training at a business school in South Africa or overseas.

Group companies continue to build on sound relationships with trade unions. In many instances, these have been in place since 1985. The established structures for collective bargaining and consultations, along with the expertise built up in the group over many years, ensured there were no major industrial relations incidents during the year.

The group’s reward system is based on a total package concept to provide employees with maximum flexibility. Group companies are participating members in at least three medical schemes and employees are encouraged to select their own scheme. Where a company’s administration cannot provide for multiple schemes, employees can still make their own administration arrangements to enable them to join alternative schemes.

A new administration system for the Reunert Retirement Fund was introduced in 2004. The system has proved reliable and employees are now able to regularly monitor changes in their pension fund benefits.

A new investment strategy put in place for the Reunert Retirement Fund has proved successful. All employees now have access to a user-friendly, sophisticated planning tool which enables them to make their own investment choices, based on their individual retirement needs.

Employee profile                                  
as at September 2005                                  

      Male               Female        
Occupational levels Black   Coloured   Indian   White   Black   Coloured   Indian   White   Total

Top management** 14   0   1   56   1   0   0   2   74

Senior management 8   2   3   81   1   0   0   14   109

Professionally qualified,                                  
experienced specialists and                                  
mid-management 20   12   22   286   3   5   9   74   431

Skilled technical and                                  
academically qualified                                  
workers, junior management,                                  
supervisors, foremen and                                  
superintendents 307   124   85   615   114   94   57   379   1 775

Semi-skilled and discretionary                                  
decision-making 568   64   34   48   134   103   35   129   1 115

Unskilled and defined                                  
decision-making 302   11   1   4   816   42   2   6   1 184

Total permanent 1 219   213   146   1 090   1 069   244   103   604   4 688

Contract workers 159   27   16   63   59   80   8   36   448

Temporary staff 70   10   19   21   26   3   6   7   162

Trainees 8   1   0   7   6   0   0   0   22

Total other 237   38   35   91   91   83   14   43   632

Total                                 5 320

** Includes all directors in group companies                                



Students of the Reunert College welcome the Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, at the inauguration of members of the National Board for Further Education and Training.