For a number of years, Maitland has invested in and benefitted from internship programmes. Internships, particularly in a South African context, provide a sustainable long-term solution to unemployed and previously disadvantaged graduates. When the national unemployment rate is as high as 27,6%, internships become crucial.

Towards the end of 2018, the South African Government launched a new initiative called the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme, focusing on stimulating job creation and employment. The programme consists of a 12-month paid internship to young, unemployed graduates across various sectors, with the aim of creating one million jobs by 2021. Maitland bought into this programme and took on 30 YES interns when the programme officially launched in February of this year. These 30 joined the existing interns at Maitland, bringing the total number to over 50.

Alignment of skills

Interns at Maitland are, where possible, placed in teams where their skills and degrees align. They typically spend six months with this group, learning hands-on skills and how to apply their hard-earned education. After six months, they rotate to another team, to further expand their skills and knowledge of the industry. As most interns are newly graduated, and with job opportunities generally requiring some level of experience, an internship provides the vital experiential learning necessary to begin a career.

The highest concentration of interns at Maitland can be found in the Data Integration and Replication team, as well as the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team. Nic Trueb, Maitland’s Global Target Operating Model Functional Lead, who has trained many interns and champions the internship programme says, “There is substantial personal reward to be had in training interns. To be part of someone’s journey at such a critical stage in their careers and to see the difference you can make in such a short period of time is remarkable.”

Interns also benefit from the input of external consultants, such as Fundamental Business and Corporate Skills Training provided by Jordan Gray of Coach on Call. According to Gray, “It is imperative that interns learn that their actions have consequences and I take a firm stance on arriving on time, arriving prepared and dressing appropriately. I call it starting at Ground Zero, which is necessary as this is usually their first experience of working in a corporate environment. Once the groundwork is laid however, interns tend to flourish”. Gray trains interns in a series of four sessions, with modules including Interpersonal and Professional Communication, Business Writing and Professional Email, Mindfulness and Integration, as well as Workplace Etiquette and Gender Intelligence, thus working on both hard and soft skills necessary to equip them for the world of work.

The success of the programme is determined by the placement of our interns following their internship period. A number of our interns have been successfully employed by Maitland following the completion of their internship. Namhla Mgqibelo is one such success story. He started as an intern and is now a BCM / Procurement Administrator. Namhla remarks, “I have grown tremendously as a person in terms of confidence, the knowledge I have and the working experience I have gathered. Maitland’s flat structure means that you can interact with anyone regardless of where they sit on the hierarchy. It’s like we are equal but with different responsibilities.”

The YES Programme has allowed us to redesign our existing internship programme. We have introduced one-on-one meetings between interns and HR coordinators, trained mentors (located in other teams) to help navigate the corporate environment, introduced online programmes, and brought in the skills of outsiders. Now that it has been established, we are excited to develop it further and continue positively impacting the lives of young South African graduates.

To learn more about the YES Programme, click here.

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