JOHANNESBURG - Not being content with the direction her career was taking led to entrepreneur Ursula Bhengu-Dlamini founding a company to help connect unemployed youths and misplaced graduates with better career prospects.
Bhengu-Dlamini, granddaughter of the late renowned Reverend Nicholas Bhengu, established her company Networx For Career Development in 2005 to give her targeted audience a head start in life.
She started the company from a backyard but today it has a staff complement of more than 50 people. She says her passion and dream is to alleviate poverty and unemployment among the youth.
Bhengu-Dlamini obtained her first degree in industrial psychology from the University of Natal. However, she was forced to work in the banking sector and later for a medical aid as she couldn’t find work in her field.
“I felt I didn’t belong there, I was a misplaced graduate,” she says.
Bhengu-Dlamini sources funding from various sector education and training authorities to enable matriculants to enrol for learnerships.
“We are an accredited training provider. We run learnership programmes which are a step in the door for people who don’t have money to further their education. They give them some form of workplace experience,” says Bhengu-Dlamini.
Her programmes help dent the scourge of unemployment in the country, currently at 26.7 percent. “Unemployment in South Africa is not a battle that should be left to government alone to address. Public Private Partnerships must come together and address this challenge.”
Bhengu-Dlamini, whose company has two offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, says they have a national presence and that most of learnership programmes are implemented through local municipalities. “We are starting an office in Free State in three months’ time, and we have a satellite office in Kimberley.”
She recently launched her national project titled ‘Work Readiness Programme’ which provides a mentorship platform for recent graduates in all spheres of study.
She involves employers and make arrangements with them to place graduates in their companies in order for them to gain work exposure and experience. This in turn, increases their chances of getting gainful employment, says Bhengu-Dlamini, who describes herself as a self-motivated and passionate perfectionist.
“I always push to get what I want and do what is right.”
She likes her programmes as they assist graduates cope with their new work environments.
“New graduates are draining emotionally and physically for employers, some arrive late for work and so on.”
In the next decade Bhengu-Dlamini says she plans to be doing exactly what she is doing now, albeit on a larger scale.
“I would like to continue doing what I’m doing and increase our footprint s that we can cover more youth to get employment. I would like to see more companies doing the same and making a difference,” she says.
- BUSINESS REPORT