Something positive in the air

The skills shortage is a reality, as more than 80percent of companies have testified in Deloitte's National Remuneration Guide and as President Thabo Mbeki himself has admitted.

At the heart of the shortage, says Deputy President Phumzile MlamboNgcuka, is a misalignment of the skills graduates have and those in demand.

Another factor is gender stereotyping. Traditionally girls were not considered capable of handling jobs such as construction, engineering, careers based on maths and science, accounting and legal work, all previously seen as a male preserve.

Cell C's Take a Girl Child to Work Day is a crucial and influential step in addressing this misconception and helping fill the skills gaps.

It enables girls and women to appreciate the significant opportunities available to them and highlights the skills in demand.

Cell C corporate social investment manager Mercia Maserumule says: "A lack of information about careers, what demands they make and what characteristics and qualifications aspiring graduates need to achieve success, must be addressed to help our learners make informed choices."

The Take a Girl Child to Work Day campaign sees companies in formal partnerships host 20 girls from a school selected by Cell C in cooperation with the Education Department.

Maserumule says: "The girls are exposed to 'careers in action'. They experience the realities of the workplace, see successful women in a variety of positions, exercising skills, talents and abilities that many of them had no idea women could master.

"Their horizons are broadened, self-esteem is significantly boosted and they gain new confidence and ambition.

"They enter into dialogue with employees, many of whom remain in contact, becoming mentors and friends."

The campaign's supporting partnership option enables companies to host schools, while the informal partnership option encourages employees to bring daughters, sisters, cousins, granddaughters, nieces and even neighbours along.

In its sixth year, the campaign is backed by the Girl Child Bursary Fund.

This SMS initiative enables people to donate R10 to a bursary for girls. Cell C matches the funds. Absa contributes R100000.