Barnstone, a leading professional services firm based in Gauteng, has just launched the Barnstone Graduate Academy to contribute to South Africa’s pool of professional services skills. The Barnstone Academy will offer 12 young graduates a six-month training and internship with the potential for full-time employment thereafter.
“This is a first for us, but we really wanted to play a role in helping these 12 exceptional young men get the workplace training they need to build successful careers,” says Deon Crafford, MD of Barnstone Corporate Services.
Crafford explains that the 12 were part of a team that was employed to take details of the second phase of a highly-complex broad-based black economic empowerment scheme to nearly 30 000 miners working at some 30 sites across the country.
“This was a complex and very sensitive assignment for one of our mining clients, and it required smart work and dedication to communicate the intricacies of this phase of the scheme to a very broad audience at the shaft head, so to speak. We were very impressed by the performance of these young graduates, and decided to offer them a way to build on that experience,” Crafford says.
“It’s maybe worth mentioning that the nature of this project required we work with men only, which means that this first intake is male only. We will redress the gender imbalance in later intakes.”
Trainees, who are paid a monthly stipend, will spend six months on the programme, which will combine classroom teaching, group work and mentoring with extensive on-the-job experience. The curriculum will include training in Barnstone’s focus technology areas in the mining, energy and financial services sectors, as well as the company’s basic methodologies.
A substantial proportion of time will also be spent on general career-building skills as well.
“The professional services industry has the potential to create a lot of high-quality jobs and yet it’s hard for us to attract high-calibre black graduates because we can’t compete with the share options and other benefits of the traditional companies,” observes Mpika Manyathi, manager of the new academy.
“This scheme will help to grow that talent pool for us, but it will also benefit the country at large. We will employ as many of the trainees as we can at the end of the six-month period or help to place them with clients – but neither are we attempting to shackle them in any way. If they get a good job offer even while they are on the course, we will help them to get it.”
Crafford stresses that the academy is in its infancy. “We are also on a steep learning curve,” he says. “The main thing, however, is that we have begun and will be able to open doors for the trainees. We plan to continue the programme, and are looking at running one six-month session each year.”