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Craig Gibson, Webhelp SA CEO

Following its recent ZAR200m investment into South Africa’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, Webhelp SA is now investing in developing South Africa’s youth.

“It has become critical for business to be involved in the education and career prospects of South Africa’s youth so that the skills gap may be addressed. There have to be opportunities for the empowerment and employment of talented individuals in the economy,” explains Webhelp SA CEO, Craig Gibson.

South Africa has an exceptionally high unemployment rate of 25%, which is primarily among people aged between 16 to 30 years. This is largely driven by a lack of education because a large number of individuals are forced to leave school early, due to various personal and socio-economic factors.

Webhelp SA is working in partnership with Columba Leadership Activating Youth 2.0 to engage with Grade 10 and 11 pupils on values, leadership and community development initiatives. The programme, which started in 2013, aims to bring about positive changes in the pupils, their school and surrounding areas. The programme has already resulted in a decline in absenteeism and late-coming.

Following the learners’ participation in the Columba Leadership Academy, they are afforded the opportunity to intern at Webhelp SA.

The first group of learners spent four days at Webhelp SA during January and learnt about the business, its functions and career opportunities at Webhelp and in the industry. Various Webhelp staff members were provided the opportunity to engage with the students and volunteer a portion of their time to lead a session. This not only allowed relationships to be built during the session but for the engagement with the students and the school to continue long past the end of the internship.

As an outcome of the internship the learners were tasked with producing a presentation to secure funding for various projects they had identified in their school and community. The pitch was presented to Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest, Webhelp SA’s sourcing partner and she was so impressed she donated R10 000 to their projects.

Webhelp SA’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) offering provides mentorship for youth, and employment and skills development opportunities to young adults from low income areas in South Africa in order to improve their standard of living and prospects, and to indirectly assist them in impacting their community. This is aligned to Webhelp SA’s business imperatives and is delivered through a CSI value chain that has been developed to guide and manage the process.

“Our CSI value chain is replicable and can be produced for each of our operations across South Africa,” Gibson says.

“Webhelp is also in the process of developing content for Webhelp University which is set to launch later in 2014.”
In November 2013, the Paris-headquartered customer experience company, Webhelp Group, announced its significant inward investment in South Africa which would create 1 000 new jobs. Over the next five years that number is expected to increase to at least 5 000. The first 7 500 square meter Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) facility opened in Cape Town in March 2014 and houses UK mobile network giant, EE.

In Johannesburg a further 4 500 square meter contact centre will open in May 2014, re-enforcing South Africa’s reputation as a destination of choice for global service providers.

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