Local pension fund administration and Beneficiary Care provider, FedGroup, has announced plans to expand the company’s unique, innovative Iteke learnership programme and is looking for partners and other industry players to assist in accommodating a larger intake of learners in 2016.
The FedGroup Iteke Learnership Programme is a year-long initiative that offers mentorship, work experience, and a tertiary education to beneficiaries – children who have lost one or both parents who have contributed to a pension fund while alive. The Iteke programme, which derives its name from a Sepedi phrase meaning ‘to challenge yourself’, was launched in 2014 and currently has a capacity of six learners who are accommodated within FedGroup.
Having reached capacity, FedGroup is looking to place an additional 14 learners from the 2016 intake in partner and other industry-related organisations to ensure they receive the type of training, expertise and workplace-related experience that formal tertiary education cannot offer.
“This will bring the total number of beneficiaries who benefit from this programme each year to 20, which was a key objective when we first launched the programme in 2014,” explains Jeanetta Hendricks, business development manager at FedGroup.
“Since its inception we’ve refined the processes and operational elements of the programme which means it runs efficiently and delivers results,” she says. The programme, which will still be administered by FedGroup, ensures participants rotate through various departments, gaining in-depth work experience across a variety of business units. FedGroup also pays the tutelage and exam fees for a SETA-accredited certificate in Business Administration Services. Participants also receive on-site training from a lecturer, and are tasked with monthly assignments throughout the year, before sitting for a final exam.
Each participant is also paid a monthly allowance to assist them with transportation and living expenses. In addition, they are exposed to good financial practices, and are taught about investments, retirement planning, and insurance.
“We are also looking for people who can help to guide beneficiaries; young men and women who have lost one or more of their parents, and give them a mentor in their lives – imparting wisdom and inspiration to our learners,” adds Hendricks.
FedGroup also hopes that by opening this initiative up to industry it will assist partners and other financial services providers to get more involved in socio-economic upliftment.
“Some of our partners and other smaller companies in the industry don’t necessarily have the resources to run a programme like this in-house, but are keen to do more for social upliftment in the country than merely making monetary donations,” explains Hendricks. “By joining the FedGroup Iteke Learnership Programme these companies will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on initiative that is fully managed and administered, which takes the financial and operational burden out of their corporate social investment.”
For those looking to develop their own grassroots initiative Hendricks believes that their involvement in the Iteke learnership could form the basis of an internal programme further down the line.
Furthermore, Hendricks states that the expansion of the programme aims to address the ever-growing skills shortage in the financial services industry, while also addressing the broader issue of unemployment in the country, at least in some small way.
“A key aim of the programme has been to encourage skills development in this sector and introduce more hopeful participants to the industry through work experience,” she continues. “By helping learners gain on-the-job experience we’re also helping to bridge the gap between the academic environment and the workplace, which gives them an important advantage in securing gainful employment. Our initiative partners would also have the option of offering learners full-time employment in their organisation on the successful completion of the programme if they would like to benefit from their investment in the initiative and not lose the skills development and training they have provided.”
Hendricks adds that this is the natural progression in the evolution of the learnership as FedGroup’s ethos behind pension fund administration and Beneficiary Care is rooted a social upliftment. “Through our actions we hope to extend our belief throughout the industry that the social impact of these funds and the industry should extend further than merely providing financial support to those who have lost a parent or primary breadwinner,” she concludes.
FedGroup invites all partners and companies within the financial services industry, including competitors, to sign up and adopt the FedGroup Iteke Learnership Programme. Interested parties can visit www.fedgroup.co.za to find out more.