In 1956, 20,000 women marched on the Union Buildings. Sixty-two years later, South Africans both celebrate and honour this important milestone in the nation’s history, by recognising the essential part women play in creating powerful and healthy communities. While there have been enormous changes since then for human rights and the rights of women, there are still areas and sectors where women aren’t naturally included.
According to statistician-general Risenga Maluleke, the unemployment rate for women is higher than that of men, and women are less likely to participate in the labour market. A Stats SA report published in the first quarter of 2018 indicates that “the South African working-age population increased by 153 000 or 0,4 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. The rise in both employment (up by 206 000) and unemployment (up by 100 000) over the quarter led to the rise in the labour force participation rate now standing at 59,3%. The unemployment rate (26,7%) remained unchanged over the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.”
In a bid to change the male-dominated landscape of the electronics industry, Samsung have set up the Woman Technical Programme, which has seen numerous disadvantaged women rise above the prospect of unemployment towards a skilled and viable future. To address the gender disparity in the industry and to add to the pool of talented technical specialists required to service and support the growing consumer electronics and mobile phone markets, Samsung encourages women to take part in the technical programme.
Nithia Pillay, Director: Customer Services at Samsung South Africa, says, “Women have been excluded from the electronics field for far too long. Their natural ability to note intricate details and deliver quality work makes them ideal for this sector.”
Women who form part of Samsung’s Women Technical Programme are between the ages of 18 and 25, are from the townships around Ekurhuleni and have already completed a college qualification. If they have not secured employment, they are then accepted onto the programme. They complete a six-month in-depth technical training course, followed by a month of in-service training. After gaining the technical knowledge they need, students are exposed to the public and taught the ins and outs of client service. Students then return to Samsung’s Women Technical Programme to round out their training. Service Centres can offer fully trained students permanent employment, providing them with the first stepping stone to a career in the electronics sector.
“Samsung is ensuring that women are taking up more space in the electronics field, a much-needed development that we are proud of. Graduates from the programme are all gainfully employed. With another intake in September this year, the number of skilled women within the electronics sector is set to continue rising,” concludes Pillay.
For South Africa to adequately address the dire unemployment rate in the country, the private sector has to get involved. With initiatives such as Samsung’s Women Technical Programme, which afford women dignified and solid career paths, some hope can be seen for South Africa’s future.