Go for Gold was created to improve the number of candidates from disadvantaged communities eligible to study towards a technical profession and secure employment. Through a unique partnership with companies in built environment and the Western Cape and Gauteng Departments of Education, Go for Gold’s education-to-employment programme has already helped over 600 learners and enabled more than 24 companies to employ young graduate professionals from disadvantaged communities.
The organisation’s four phase model is centred on the premise that in order to create future skilled graduate professionals, who also possess the self-belief to succeed, requires long term investment where the whole child is developed – i.e. both academically and emotionally.
Go for Gold works with students interested in pursuing careers in the built environment. Their 4 phase programme’s success derives from placing major emphasis on extra maths and science tuition, starting in Grade 11 and continuing through to tertiary level studies.
The students begin in Phase 1 in Grade 11. Go for Gold provide students with after-school and Saturday morning additional academic tuition while simultaneously developing the learner’s social and emotional development though regular Life-Skills and Leadership Development sessions. Originally operating solely in Cape Town and supporting the Western Cape Education Department, at the beginning of 2015 Go for Gold expanded its operation to Gauteng, working with students from schools identified by the Gauteng Education Department.
In 2016, as the new kids on the Gauteng built environment block, Go for Gold stakeholders keenly anticipated the first cohort of Phase 1 Go for Gold matric students’ results. Impressively, one of many worthy mentions, is that of a 2016 Go for Gold matriculated students Morgan Bentley who attained 100% for science and 99% for mathematics. In 2017 Morgan enters Phase 2 of the Go for Gold programme, a paid experiential work-readiness year working on site at one of Go for Gold’s partner companies, Stefanutti Stocks.
After two years on the programme, Go for Gold asked him what he thinks of the programme and Morgan said “The extra tuition in maths and science is very valuable to students who cannot afford to pay for extra classes. I realise I am privileged to be part of this programme. In fact I think every career should have a programme like Go for Gold where it allows young people to first experience the career they are interested in. I want to study something in engineering and the Phase 2 year will allow me to decide what kind of engineering I will study. I will forever be grateful to Go for Gold.”
When asked how he felt Go for Gold life skills training helped him, he said “Go for Gold’s leadership development classes were invaluable as it taught me to be more self-aware and take personal responsibility for my studies. Albeit the teachers try their best, relying on school teachers alone would not aid my success. I realised I had to control myself and the only way I would gain privileges was by working hard. I also became more confident and MC’d two major Go for Gold events in 2016. I think everyone needs life skills and development classes, which will help them the way it helped me. ”
Impressively all 30 Gauteng Go for Gold Phase 1 matric students obtained Bachelor Passes, qualifying them for tertiary studies and allowing them to pursue technical professions in the built environment. The 2016 year’s Go for Gold class furthermore boasts eight distinctions in maths and nine distinctions in science with their class average impressively increasing by 8% in mathematics and 12% in science since June exams last year.
Go for Gold echoes the sentiment of an associate professor in inclusive education at Wits School of Education, Elizabeth Walton who highlights the importance of maths and science . “I think it is vital that maths and science retain our attention, for several reasons. These are gateway subjects for the science, technology, engineering and maths occupations South Africa urgently needs to develop.” She adds “For those who are not looking to pursue further education, a matric certificate is expected to provide proof of preparation for the world of work.”
The 2016 cohort of matriculated future Go for Gold stars are entering Phase 2 this year at Go for Gold’s partnering companies, namely Aveng Grinaker-LTA, Terra Strata, Murray & Roberts, NMC, Power Group, Stefanutti Stocks and WBHO. Going forward, Go for Gold looks to include vocations from the mining sector in Gauteng, a prominent sector in the region, as many students have expressed interest in mining-related engineering fields.
In the Go for Gold Phase 2 year, partner companies have the opportunity to harness talent from the pool of Go for Gold students and offer bursaries to students to study their chosen professions in Phase 3. “The informal internship year is hugely valuable as it allows students to gain first-hand experience of the various professions involved in the Built Industry and other related sectors,” says Go for Gold’s Managing Director, Bridget-ann Mullins. “It is also strongly supported by our industry partners, who get a chance to assess the students’ future employability.” Throughout the programme’s journey, Go for Gold nurture and support the whole-person development of each student.
Go for Gold relies on the support of their partner companies and sponsors to tackle South Africa’s youth unemployment problem while simultaneously addressing the shortage of young graduate professionals from disadvantaged communities in the built environment. Seeing successes such as the 2016 Phase 1 matric class has been the driving force behind the award-winning non-profit organisation, Go for Gold for the past 14 years. Every year the programme grows nationally with an abundant number of youth carrying the potential to be the world’s next Nikola Tesla.