Many of the beneficiaries that register to study at Bergzicht Training and Development come from poor communities where gangsterism, drug abuse and violence are prevalent. Many are also unemployed with little or no skills to enter the job market. The challenges they face while studying, can often have a negative impact on their lives and this is where Bergzicht Training and Development’s Mentoring and Support team consisting of registered social worker, Nathalie Skippers, and social auxiliary worker, Natalea de Ruiter, come in.

De Ruiter, who is an alumnus of Bergzicht Training and Development completed the Educare (now Child Care) Programme in 2014, and brings another unique aspect to the team as she once stood in the exact same shoes of the beneficiaries and graduates she is assisting. She joined the Bergzicht Training and Development team earlier this year to further bolster the work being done in this specific environment.

The two are responsible for Work Placement at Bergzicht Training and Development. About 18 months ago, Bergzicht Training and Development made a decision to restructure the Placement Bureau to incorporate counselling and mentoring of beneficiaries and graduates, place a stronger focus on job-seeking skills, and to further empower graduates to find work with the support of this team.

Since Bergzicht Training and Development has intentionally started investing in this environment, work retention amongst students has increased. Mechanisms put in place include the extension of mentoring and support to one year after employment while work retention is measured every 3, 6 and 12 months. In 2018, placement success after three months was at 82% while placement success after a year of employment reached 50% in 2019.

While Skippers focuses on exit placement and the support of the students, Natalea’s main focus is on work-integrated learning opportunities for graduates’ beneficiaries. Both provide mentoring to the beneficiaries and graduates.

“The support of students is important to us, because it may be their first time in a job and most times the first time in the specific industry they have been trained to work in. As part of our training model, we want to support students in their first 12 months and that is why we reconsidered the concept of a placement office and rather started focusing on mentoring and student support to empower students to help themselves too. We do all of this, because while we believe that a good placement rate is wonderful, we also want to see students retain their jobs in the long term, seek out other learning opportunities and grow their careers,” said Adrian Bezuidenhout, Bergzicht Training and Development’s Training Manager.


Mentoring and Support

Registered social worker, Nathalie Skippers, and social auxiliary worker, Natalea de Ruiter, provide crucial mentoring and support to beneficiaries and alumni in employment. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)