Merchants Academy wins at Cape BPO Awards
In 2021, Merchants launched its Academy in line with its dedication to building a strong talent pipeline in South Africa, equipped with future ready skills. Last month, the Academy won the award for Top Non-Technical Innovation at the Cape BPO Awards.
The CapeBPO Awards aim to honour and celebrate the outstanding contributions of the BPO sectors’ top-performing and innovative individuals and companies, supporting CapeBPO’s mission of connecting the industry’s leading achievers, providing a platform to acknowledge visionary ideas, and reward those individuals and companies who have excelled over the past 12 months.
Dr Sydwell Shikweni, Transformation Director at Merchants, explains that as the world moves forward and continues embracing evolving technological realities such as automation, artificial intelligence and robotics, organisations need to ensure they are addressing the human need for continuous learning and development in this regard.
“Through the Merchants Academy, we believe we are empowering South Africans to respond to the changing world of work. Winning this award shines an important light on our efforts and dedication to investing in skills development across our sector — and we hope this will encouraging other organisations to join forces with us, or embark on similar initiatives,” he says.
Merchants has a clear vision to provide over 10 000 unemployed youths with training and employment opportunities in the BPO sector, by March 2030. Our success is measured through offering demand-led training in line with the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI).
Dr Shikweni notes that as the Academy grows, it not only allows Merchants to make a positive impact on its own staff, but also the wider community within which it operates. “Lack of funding leaves so many aspiring young people unable to acquire tertiary education and training, leaving a large portion of the country’s talent untapped. Merchants believes that learning and development is a human right, which is why the Merchants Academy places accessibility, inclusion, affordability, and sustainability at its core.”
The PYEI identified youth unemployment as a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative, and coordinated solutions. Statistics South Africa (2021) indicates that over 8,5 million (41,7%) out of 20,4 million young people aged 15-34 years are not in employment, education, or training (NEET). The Academy is uniquely positioned to ensure that Merchants address associated challenges at a national, sectoral, and organisational level.
“While we concur with the notion that transforming the lives of few at a time might not change the world, it does change their world for good. We remain committed to working in collaboration with like-minded organisations and making the dreams of our youth a reality by providing access to our programmes, anytime and anywhere,” he concludes.