Innovation often stems from a unique perspective and a fresh outlook on the future. This has been the driving force for the partnership between EduPower, a leading training provider and the branded merchandise company, JIMBU. Together, they are reimagining the potential of learnerships, and this visionary collaboration is nurturing skills development in a way that offers companies substantial savings on their employees’ uniform costs and contributes to their BEE scorecard.
JIMBU’s CEO, Chris McNabb, explains the origins of this forward-thinking partnership: “EduPower has been a valued client for several years and as our relationship progressed, we realised that by combining our expertise, we could offer businesses a unique value proposition. This proposition not only empowers our youth to acquire new skills but also assists clients in earning points on their BEE scorecard through skills development. Furthermore, the provision of subsidised uniforms, originally intended for purchase, are now the product of their own learnerships,” says McNabb.
JIMBU, a young and dynamic business supplies a wide range of branded merchandise specialising in the production and management of employee uniforms. It has secured ongoing contracts with some of South Africa’s largest companies which inspired the creation of this learnership model.
“Broad-Based Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) compliance is important to our clients, but they have been allocating their Skills Development and Enterprise/Supplier Development grants to unrelated third parties,” McNabb explains. “Through our partnership with EduPower, they can now channel this spend into learnerships that will actually save them money.”
The structure of the learnership is successful because it draws on both companies’ expertise. EduPower provides the training, recruitment and essential back-office support, and the work experience is hosted at JIMBU’s CMT (Cut, Make, Trim) factory. After completing a three-month training program at EduPower, candidates transition to JIMBU, where they acquire the skills to produce uniforms in line with client requirements. According to McNabb, the active involvement of the clients’ learners in the CMT process leads to a reduction in the sale price of each unit, potentially resulting in substantial cost savings.
Rajan Naidoo, the Managing Director of EduPower, says the savings achieved depend on the level of spend and the number of learners.
“The learnerships with JIMBU are structured to ensure that all parties involved benefit. Companies benefit by obtaining their B-BBEE points while also offsetting uniform costs. EduPower benefits through the acquisition of a client. JIMBU finds a solution for its clients while enjoying the cost benefits that come with the partnership. And of course, the learners benefit as they receive exceptional work experience and a recognised, accredited qualification.”
A Promising Start
To pilot this project, four learners began their journey at JIMBU’s CMT factory in April of this year. With their training completed, the learners have transitioned into the work environment, learning practical CMT skills that include receiving, dispatch and warehouse management. Naidoo says this will give the learners a well-rounded understanding and equip them with practical skills that are highly valued in the job market.
“Jimbu’s CMT factory is proving to be an ideal learnership venue and its bespoke production allows for a holistic learning experience,” Naidoo adds. “The JIMBU team are also proving to be exceptional mentors.”
McNabb says his team has enjoyed sharing their knowledge and found the learnership programme extremely rewarding. However, he acknowledges that there have been challenges as learners progress at different rates. Nevertheless, the JIMBU team is a close-knit one, so we’ve been able to provide the support required by each learner.”
McNabb encourages businesses to consider similar initiatives. “As companies, we have an obligation and the ability to transform South Africa where everyone is employable. Meaningful skills development programmes in conjunction with credible training providers are a wonderful opportunity to empower our youth, give back to the community and also ensure a return on investment.”
The EduPower and JIMBU collaboration is a testament to the transformative power of innovative thinking. Through their partnership they are not just delivering successful learnerships; they are starting to reshape the youth unemployment landscape by employing a unique strategy that can be adopted by other organisations to make a difference.