28 Feb, Gauteng: 120 business leaders, corporates and government gathered at a corporate briefing in Gauteng yesterday offering their support to a campaign to fight male violence and unemployment. Decision makers from SA’s top brands pledged their commitment to ‘Men in the Making Day’ on March 27th and will invite grade 10-12 students into their workplace for motivational talks, career guidance, team building and job shadowing, in a drive to provide mentorship and inspiration.

At the same time as the event yesterday, Pravin Gordhan delivered his 2014 Budget Speech detailing, “Government has spent more than R100 billion on employment programmes over the past five years, including municipal and provincial spending. More than 4 million job opportunities were funded over this time. But unemployment of 24 per cent of the work force is still far too high.”

Unemployment, addiction, and gender-based violence are largely entwined, and are often a result of a lack of hope or direction. Speaking at the briefing, Alan Hutcheson, CEO at Tracker, said, “We noticed that much of the crime was committed by the youth, because if you leave school without a vision, higher education, or a job, it can be a breeding ground for crime. At Tracker we felt we needed to do something about this, but it was difficult to do on our own – we needed corporate South Africa, we needed government, and we needed the students. So I thank all of you here for your commitment. I get so excited to see the fruits of what’s been invested over the last five years, and I think the programme will just get stronger and stronger.”
 
Tracker launched Men in the Making on 25th March 2009, immediately gaining support and endorsement from the Department of Basic Education - directly in line with their Boy Education Movement (BEM) School Programme. In its fifth year, it has reached thousands of young men. Dululu Hlatshaneni, responsible for the Department’s Social Cohesion and Equity in Education, added, “Men in the Making promotes our gender empowerment programme, solely focusing on our boys and ensuring that it promotes their responsible behavior so that they learn the values and ethos which will help them become better young men in the future.”

Of the corporate participants, many of the country’s well-known names have joined -
PricewaterhouseCoopers, First Rand Group, Outurance, MWEB, Exxaro, SASRIA, Transnet, and Murray & Roberts, among others. Norah Sehunoe from Hollard shared a reason for the involvement, “We tend to forget about the boys. The reality is that, for our future to be bright, we have to give back to the boys and the girls as well. When we were running our ‘Bring a Girl-Child to Work’ programme in schools, a lot of the boys would come and say “what about us?” This was our opportunity to say that you’re also important.”

Desiree Storey from First Rand Group added, “We’ve been refining our programme over the years and it now lasts four days. They have so much information and so much hope, so that when they get home, they can see there are opportunities and the world is their oyster.”

Representative for Afgri, Mpati Mojapelo, who showcased their programme, said, “It was Men in the Making that showed us we had expertise to share, and now it reaches 80 young learners - not just for one day, but all year round.”

Moving documentaries were shown of high school learners who had taken part in last year’s event, as well as updates on the ongoing success of graduates from previous years. Three Men in the Making graduates, Katleho Mankoe, Leetho Thabana and William Sello recounted how their experience had literally transformed their lives - some as orphans, others from disadvantaged positions. Sello said, “It inspired me a lot. It put me in a corporate world where I see what is happening there. Now I know how to market myself, I can stand before people and tell them my abilities, and my goals, so I can become a better person.”

Tshego Bokaba, CSI Manager at Tracker concluded, “We’ve seen fantastic stories and testimonies here from the young men, and this has been made possible by business leaders and government departments. Before the ‘Men in the Making Day’ on March 27th, just a month from now, we need more businesses to get involved - get behind this project so we can make a difference together. To create a cultural shift we have to create peers and ambassadors who are living proof of what’s possible. Without leaders in our community we don't have examples to follow.”
   
Notes to Editor
The Men in the Making Day
The main event is scheduled to take place on 27th March. On the day the young men will be assisted in recognizing their potential, by giving them an opportunity to experience the workplace, and thus expose them to various career opportunities. Grade 10-12 boys from pre-selected schools will be invited to spend a day at participating companies’ offices. An attempt will be made to match boys’ interests to the activities of the business. Depending on the type of business, companies may structure the day in any way deemed to be appropriate, but should ideally include an address by the chief executive, an explanation of the business, some exposure to the various positions available at the company, guidance on potential study paths to gain entry to such a business, an address by a career/life skills counselor and some fun activities involving the staff. Participating companies will be supplied with project guidelines, disclaimer forms and participation certificate templates.
 
To set up an interview with a spokesperson from Men in the Making, corporate participants or high school learners, please contact Elizabeth Senger at Mediaweb, 0833 967 608, elizabeth@mediaweb.co.za
 
How to register
Visit www.tracker.co.za to register or contact Tshego Bokaba via email tbokaba@tracker.co.za