KZN retailers collaborate in multi-million rand skills development project

28 February 2017

In collaboration with Mr Price Group, the SPAR Group are working to solve one of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, youth unemployment, and have partnered to provide invaluable retail work experience through MRP Foundation’s skills development initiative.

The programme, Jump Start, empowers unemployed youth with entry level skills and links them to job opportunities in retail and its supply chain. Since 2008 the youth development organisation has trained well over 22,000 previously unemployed youth and jump started over 10,000 jobs and careers.

With the SPAR Group’s initial investment of R1,5 Million increased to in excess of R10 Million over the next three years, MRP Foundation ensures it engages and enlists passionate youth who can connect with SPAR’s vision, values and culture. 

Foundational life skills and valuable hands-on work experience specific to SPAR’s retail environment is taught to students with 1,000 candidates already trained in SPAR stores across South Africa and a further 5,000 to be trained through 2019.  

SPAR Group CEO, Graham O’Connor believes this investment has the potential to make a meaningful difference within both SPAR stores and South Africa’s social space:

“The relationship between The SPAR Group and Mr Price Group has grown and developed over the past five years through the MRP Foundation where we initially were invited to ‘piggyback’ on their skills development initiative in some of our stores. Through this initiative we’re laying the foundation to address our manpower needs at store level and at the same time address the unemployment of our country’s young people by addressing skills shortages. Our initial investment in 2015 proved so successful and exciting that we’ve committed to a further three years.”

Mr Price Group CEO, Stuart Bird, also believes in the power of partnerships, in doing so, opening up greater opportunities for job seekers to step into the working world.

“We are delighted that The SPAR Group has committed to continue partnering with MRP Foundation in furthering the Jump Start programme for another three years. Our shared vision and passion for the betterment of our society, through creating opportunities for the employment of our youth, will continue to make us more effective together than if we had tried to do this alone.”

Twenty-one-year-old Aubrey S'kumbuzo Makhaza, a Jump Start beneficiary, is now employed at Knowles SPAR in Pinetown. He took the opportunity to develop skills and excelled in the program but his ambitions don't end just with employment.  "The staff are like my family and one day I even hope to own a Super SPAR with an organic rooftop garden!” he said.

Bird believes that breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering individuals to take meaningful steps to develop a sense of value, dignity and self-worth will ultimately unlocks tomorrow’s potential.