TopCo recognises Merchants as a key driver for skills development
Last month, the TopCo Top Empowerment Awards recognised Merchants as a key player in skills and youth development in South Africa. The awards have showcased the businesses leading in transformation over the past 19 years. The platform provides exposure among empowered industry players, honouring those who have displayed innovative leadership and who have made significant impact on the communities in which they operate as well as society at large.
This year, Merchants was recognised as a finalist for three awards, namely:
- Top Empowered Company: Socio-Economic Development
- Top Empowered Company: Education and Skills Development
- Top Empowered Company: Y.E.S (Youth Employment Services Initiative)
“Developing the communities in which we operate and creating a talent pipeline for the future is incredibly important to our business, and it is exciting to see our work recognised amongst some of the best players in the country,” says Dr Sydwell Shikweni, Transformation Director at Merchants – who was also a features speaker at TopCo’s 2022 Top Empowerment Conference. In particular, Merchants hosted a session showcasing the Merchants Academy as the leading provider of high impact Global Business Services skills programmes in the country. The session further highlighted key insights as shared by the panelists under the theme ‘Demand-led Skills Development as an enabler of Transformation in South Africa’, moderated by the Chairperson of the UCT Council, Ms Babalwa Ngonyama.
The Top Empowerment Conference is a leading platform in South Africa aimed at connecting the public and private sectors by identifying, recognising, celebrating, and sharing best practices that have successfully shown impact into development and investment projects and businesses.
An example of how Merchants works hard to develop the local talent pipeline is through our partnership with Youth Employment Service (YES). “We are proud to be one of the first South African BPO providers to step forward and offer solutions to the youth unemployment crisis facing the country,” says Dr Shikweni.
Now in its third year, the partnership with YES has seen a 24% permanent absorption rate among youth who enrolled in their first two programmes. However, Merchants have gone beyond the legislation to find innovative ways of increasing employment and employability among its YES youth. The 76% of youth who were not permanently absorbed were offered further 12-month, fixed-term contracts post the YES year. All youth, of which 75% are female, had been placed in call centres across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
“Youth development, specifically in respect to empowering candidates with future-ready skills, remains a priority for Merchants and an integral part of our business strategy. We are proud of the results we have achieved thus far, and continue to lead the way in this respect for South Africa’s BPO industry,” concludes Dr Shikweni.