Sector-specific Learnerships to address essential skills shortage in the Furniture Sector

Sector-specific Learnerships to address essential skills shortage in the Furniture Sector
Product Design Workshop - Learners practically applying design thinking to furniture product design

The EFC rolls out its much-anticipated Workplace Readiness Programme for Unemployed Youth

Nine high potential candidates have started a life-changing journey as part of the eThekwini Furniture Cluster’s (EFC) Workplace Readiness Programme for Unemployed Youth. The 12-month skills development programme started in March and with the support from manufacturers in the sector, these youngsters already have potential jobs lined up when they successfully complete the programme.

According to Tamlyn Kisten, the Skills Co-Ordinator for the EFC, the content for the programme has been created based on the gaps identified between market demand intelligence from some of South Africa’s major furniture retailers and the existing skills in the furniture manufacturing industry.  Tamlyn says that this has resulted in the development of unique modules that will increase the likelihood of real career opportunities for these youngsters.

“The programme is an important collaboration between the EFC, our members and other important role players in the furniture sector, and as a result, it aligns skills development with sector growth,” says Tamlyn. “Working together, we aim to give deserving unemployed young people the sector-specific skills that will help them secure their first employment opportunity and build a meaningful, sustainable career.”

The programme features a combination of online and in-person training and includes webinars, classroom workshops, online self-study and assessments. Courtney Barnes, the Chief Facilitator for the EFC says the content is focused on building up and empowering the students with rich design skills as well as developing their leadership potential through the ability to identify and solve operational challenges.

“From strong design capabilities to being able to step into junior business administration, operational and production leadership roles, the programme is designed to provide candidates with a relevant and versatile curriculum that has been specifically tailored to the demands of the sector,” Courtney explains.

This content and the delivery of the Workplace Readiness Programme is a collaboration between the EFC, the African Institute of Interior Design Professionals (IID) and Innovate Durban. While the EFC is driving the initiative, all three parties are directly involved in the roll-out of the programme. Maria Theil of the IID has been working with the nine learners and says that the collaboration between the organisations is essential for the development of new talent for the sector.

“Design is a key part of the programme as this is a specialised capability that is in high demand in the furniture sector,” says Maria. “By bringing learners and sector leaders together, we are creating solutions that will help to address this sector’s skills gaps and at the same time, give students a meaningful skill that will give them a head start in their careers,” Maria explains.

Anusuyah Pather, Programme Manager for the eThekwini Sector Programmes Unit says that with the current youth unemployment rate of 66%, the development of new entrants in the local furniture sector is a priority for the Municipality and the Workplace Readiness Programme is an important milestone in reducing unemployment.

For more information about the EFC’s Workplace Readiness Programme, email [email protected]