According to Wunderman Thompson, South Africa celebrates Youth Month to pay respect to the courage and sacrifices of the Soweto uprising youths and to celebrate young people and their potential. Devoting a month to the youth puts the spotlight on the efforts and progress made to empower and advance the young generation.

However, the agency says that inequality, poor education and high unemployment are just some of the socio-economic challenges that South African youth have to overcome before thinking about shaping the nation's future.

As a South African marketing services agency, Wunderman Thompson South Africa says that it takes its role in inspiring growth within the youth very seriously.

Wunderman Thompson's learning and development manager Khumo du Toit is passionate about investing in people and cultivating a foundation for young talent to grow with the agency or take what they've learnt to flourish in the industry.

"We run an annual learnership programme that brings young black talent into the agency, so that we may teach future industry professionals and specialists," says du Toit.

"We work with partners, including Umuzi and Transcend, to identify and source young talent for the twelve-month learnership. Currently, we have six candidates for the 2020 programme; we usually have an intake of between four and six learners annually," du Toit adds.

"In just the last three years, the group has invested more than R2,5-million on learnerships. We are excited to build on this investment as we expand our learnership and internship opportunities," du Toit says.

The agency runs six-month internships to help young graduates put their qualification's theory into practice. Opportunities exist across the business for their personal development.

"I'm proud to share that since 2018, approximately 30 learners have been absorbed successfully into the agency as full-time employees, post-internship," du Toit says.

Thando Simelane, Sandile Dube, Njabulo Mavundla and Sewela Matlala are some of the learners who are currently employed full-time. Both the learnerships and internships aim to expose young graduate talent to all aspects of the business, offering on-the-job upskilling, as well as formal training and mentorship.

Formal workshops are run through the Wunderman Thompson Academy and straddle a range of material and modules that are SETA-accredited. Furthermore, the agency says that it is fully committed to transformation beyond compliance through its employee personal development plans.

By recording the training, development and aspirations of its staff, the leadership team can offer the support and means to help individuals achieve their personal career goals, while understanding where the business is going.

Unati Moalusi, chief people officer of Wunderman Thompson South Africa, is delighted that overall talent growth is a strategic intent at a fundamental level within the business. Moalusi believes that the industry has to be agile, especially when it comes to young talent. 

"We've come to focus on how we can add value to them and help them give of their best," says Moalusi. "Miles Murphy, who joined the agency as CEO a few months ago, reinforces this intent, having shared his determination to significantly increase employment opportunities for South Africans in the sector over the next year or two."

Moalusi concludes, "We are proud of the role we play to foster and enrich the youth to realise their potential. To quote an African proverb, 'Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested'. Happy Youth Month, South Africa."

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