South Africa is infamous for its double-edged sword of unemployment and skills shortages, with almost a third of South Africans remaining jobless while local industries bemoan the lack of appropriate talent to fill the increasingly complex tasks required of the modern business. At the same time, the country’s poor economic growth rate means businesses are struggling. Improved business skills have become a necessity for small business owners, as both the public and private sectors recognise the role of small business development in improving the country’s economy.
In alignment with this position, COENG Construction and Consulting Engineers regularly offers training for small businesses. In collaboration with Anglo American Platinum, last years’ initiative saw 32 small business owners equipped with core business skills. The training initiative is continually offered to small businesses providing products and services to the Mogalakwena mine in Limpopo Province, and has seen companies participating from a variety of industries including construction, maintenance, civil engineering, tool and plant hire, and project management. “The mine’s social development department invites up-and-coming businesses from all industries to participate; it’s not limited to traditional mining-related companies – marketing agencies, traders and transport companies have all been included,” comments COENG operations manager for mining and workshop presenter, Louis Labuschagne.
The three-month course presented by COENG provides training in valuable ‘business basics’ such as general management, financial management, human resources, marketing, safety and quality management, and entrepreneurship. Labuschagne is delighted at the success of the programme. “If we can keep empowering small businesses, just think what a difference we’ll make! I hope that the programme has equipped these business owners and entrepreneurs with the new skills they need to take their businesses forward,” says Labuschagne.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has put a hold on training for the moment, COENG looks forward to making up for lost time as soon as safely possible. Fifteen companies enrolled in the programme in January this year, and were able to complete 85% of the course work before lockdown started. The final module will resume when possible, followed by a graduation ceremony.
COENG CEO, Casian Dendere comments: “We believe that supplier and small business development is the key to economic upliftment in the country. This was true before the pandemic, but the need for this development is becoming increasingly urgent as our economy lags in these unprecedented times. COENG will continue to do its part to uplift and empower those around us, and will roll out further training initiatives with our valued partners when possible.”