Unemployed youth are being trained in technical skills to improve their employability and even open doors to starting small businesses, thanks to BME’s partnerships with training providers.

According to Reuben Ramahlare, senior human resources business partner at Omnia Group company BME, this follows the signing of service agreements earlier this year training colleges around the country.

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“An important strategic focus for us is to develop and empower communities through training, as part of our positive impact in the areas where we operate,” said Ramahlare.

“This includes communities near our operations in North West province, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng – and targets 70% women’s participation in the programmes.”

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Through this initiative, BME has been sponsoring the training of a range of vocational skills such as welding, plumbing and general property maintenance. The training bodies provide learners with certificates of competence, facilitating their path to employment or self-employment.

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He noted that groups of learners are put forward by local municipalities and spend up to a month in training. In the case of the welding course, the successful learners are provided with welding and personal protective equipment by BME, to apply their skills in the marketplace.

They are also trained in basic business skills for starting their own small enterprises, including financial management and applying for tenders. Thirty-five candidates have been trained this year in Brits, Kathu, Middelburg and eMalahleni.

“We are also involved in developing specialised skills for the blasting sector, through courses for blasting assistants,” he said.

“This gives young people opportunities not just with blasting specialists like BME, but also with companies working in drilling activity or with explosive magazines – and of course with mines themselves.”

The training organisations that BME has partnered with include the Mineral Mining Training Institute in Brits, Kathu and Middelburg, the Colliery Training Centre in eMalahleni and the Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre in Kempton Park.

He highlighted that BME’s contribution to local empowerment was also supportive of its mining customers’ commitment to the Mining Charter, which places growing importance on local content and socio-economic development.

Through its enterprise development focus, the company aims to procure from local women-owned and youth-owned businesses. It has recently partnered with taxi organisations to outsource its staff transport needs, for instance.

“We are also working on a programme to engage more women-owned businesses in the logistical aspects of our supply chain across the provinces,” said Ramahlare.

“This will assist these businesses with aspects like licencing for Code 14 drivers, which is the category required for transporting our emulsion explosives.”

There are also less frequent initiatives where BME seizes the opportunity to contribute to learning in local communities. One of these was the recent donation of computer hardware from head office to schools in Phola near Ogies, Phokeng near Rustenburg, and Eldorado Park near Johannesburg.

“We were grateful for the chance to support these schools with valuable technology – which was still suitable for their purposes while having outlived their use for our applications,” he said.