Genuine corporate social investment – that which makes a lasting difference in peoples' lives – is based on much more than simply offering ad hoc financial assistance.
Richard Rayne, MD at On-Site Training, says education is the root of meaningful social upliftment.
Management at the training institution believes that education and training, specifically in terms of PC literacy, is a fundamental requirement to alleviate poverty and develop communities.
"We live in an environment plagued with a legacy of third world poverty and for millions of people, a daily way of life. There is a constant feeling of being torn between a modern society and with another, quite primitive. We are constantly challenged as human beings as to what it is that we can do to try dent the enormous poverty barrier we are faced with in South Africa," says Rayne.
"I believe it starts with each and every individual to take on some form of community responsibility and to develop an ideal to do good or improve our social environment," he continues. "This does not mean only a financial contribution, but also providing expertise that most communities may not have access to. Corporate social investment is a collective effort between business and communities providing the platform for a hand-up not a hand-out."
On-Site Training continues to contribute towards the growth of two education-focused initiatives that are making a difference to the lives of recipients. These are the CIDA ICT Academy and Twenty 30.
CIDA ICT Academy was formed by a consortium of partners, led by IT services company T-Systems. The intention of the academy is to allow CIDA students to choose a career in IT with the ability to graduate with their BBA degree, as well as a range of internationally recognised, market required, vendor certifications.
On-Site Training has been committed to the ICT academy since its inception in 2003 and plays a fundamental role in ensuring students are provided with practical skills that will later on form the key foundation to their careers in the IT job market.
"We have hosted two students for work place experience and they have developed a keen interest in considering becoming professional trainers on completion of their studies," adds Rayne.
Twenty 30 was established as a not-for-profit organization in 2004, as a platform through which skilled and passionate individuals can volunteer their time, bridge gaps and empower fellow South Africans.
The organisation is currently focused on the education sector and has, over the past four years, facilitated over 110 professionals in volunteering their time and skills in twenty one under-resourced schools in areas such as Soweto, Orange Farm and the Inner City Johannesburg.
"The GautengOnline initiative has provided state-of-the-art computer classroom facilities to Gauteng based public schools. Unfortunately a lot of these facilities and resources at the schools have never been used. On-Site Training has played a role in providing computer training on various Microsoft products to one hundred and twelve teachers from twelve schools, over the past three years. Teachers are now equipped with skills that empower them with the ability to automate their daily responsibilities,
freeing up time for more effective teaching.
"The spin-off of empowering these teachers with such skills not only ensures the teachers' growth and increases their capacity, but also positively transfers these skills to over 7 500 learners," adds Rayne.
"The contribution that On-Site Training is making to the lives and futures of these educators and learners is immeasurable" says Meave Beckett-Leech of Twenty30. "The transfer of these skills will have a long-lasting, sustainable impact on the schools and their surrounding communities."
Rayne acknowledges that one of the more common criticisms levelled at social empowerment initiatives is that they are often sporadic and are rarely seen through to completion.
"I am pleased to say that the feedback we receive is that, aside from the benefits to educators, this conscientious effort is paving the way for an improvement in the standard of tuition, is providing access to much needed resources and is opening up opportunities for school leavers that would not have been otherwise possible," says Rayne.
"As one principal we spoke to said, 'skills volunteerism is one of the greatest skills which we can impart to all South Africans and if we start with our learners there will be change in our society'."
On-Site Training will continue to empower underprivileged communities and individuals with the skills to be able to join the modern South African economy.
"By doing so we believe we are directly impacting the lives of so many people that we hope in turn will contribute to the growth of the South African nation," Rayne concludes.