Saab’s first-ever Workplace Acceleration Programme to help SA graduates

Saab’s first-ever Workplace Acceleration Programme to help SA graduates
Ellen Rakobo, Transformation Manager at Saab and Sabelo Myeni, CEO at Sisekolo

According to South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), the unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2022 was 63,9% for 15-24-year-olds and 42,1% for 25-34-year-olds. In addition, the survey shows that the unemployment rate increased by 6,9% to 22,4% for 25-34-year-old graduates in quarter one this year.

To help combat this growing challenge, Saab Grintek Defence, the South African subsidiary of the Swedish defence and security company, partnered with the Sisekelo Institute of Business and Technology to launch its first ever 2022 Graduate Workplace Acceleration Programme for 15 of the country’s 2021 graduates.

The programme will accelerate the development of the graduates by immersing them in the work environment as Saab interns – equipping them for future roles, providing on-the-job work experience, and exposing them to different job functions.

The graduates will grow and develop their abilities during the six-month programme in a dynamic and nurturing environment. They’ll also have the opportunity to learn from Saab employees, seasoned mentors, and managers, who will help them apply what they learn during the programme in their respective job functions.

“We’ve noticed a considerable disconnect between graduates and their work environment expectations. That’s why we’ve introduced this Workplace Acceleration Programme, to allow us to bridge that gap for young South Africans who have just left school and are now entering the workplace,” says Ellen Rakobo, Transformation Manager at Saab. “Most importantly, the programme helps these graduates connect to a mentor who will help guide their career journey and find their place in the Saab organisation.” 

Saab’s programme covers basic and critical skills young graduates need to succeed in the workplace, including leadership skills, managing work processes, digital fluency, and coaching on workplace adaptation.

“Youth unemployment is a devastating reality for so many of our graduates, not just in South Africa, but Africa as a whole. Where does that leave the future of our country and even our continent if most of them continue to be unemployed,” says Sabelo Myeni, CEO at Sisekelo. “We hope to address that by partnering with organisations like Saab and giving young graduates in the country an opportunity to overcome these challenges by gaining the skills they need to succeed in the current and future work environment. In addition, we want young graduates to gain the confidence and skills to be curious and disrupt the industry through this initiative.”

Saab’s Graduate Workplace Acceleration Programme will also focus on bridging the widening digital skills gap in the country by equipping the graduates with skills they need to adapt to and work in the era of remote and hybrid working environments. This will help them unlock new growth opportunities and build a sustainable future for themselves.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to enter this programme after being accepted into Saab’s bursary programme. I’m confident this programme will equip me with the people skills I need to interact with my team and colleagues in a professional work environment. It will also help me excel and grow in my career much faster,” says Jacques Matthee, a Software Engineering graduate. “I hope to grow well beyond where I am now to become a manager in the next couple of years.”

“I’m so excited to be able to access this great opportunity to learn how the corporate environment works. It’s exposed me to many other new and fascinating careers that I feel young people are unaware of. It’s also preparing me to work in the corporate environment, meet deadlines, work with people, and make acquaintances, which I’ve always struggled with,” says Thando Dlamini, LLB graduate. “I’m learning so much from my team, and they’ve been extremely accommodating in making my transition from university into the workplace very smooth. I’d love to see myself still working at Saab in the next five years.”

Saab says this will be the first of many similar initiatives, including a programme to empower young female graduates to find employment and explore careers in male-dominated industries.