On February 15, 2020, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices South Africa with National Institute Community Development and Management (NICDAM) and Tswelopele Secondary School launched the Bridge to Employment (BTE) program in the Tswelopele, South Africa community.
The three-year program will provide a variety of academic enrichment, career exploration, higher education preparation, and community engagement and leadership opportunities to 53 Grade 10 students attending Tswelopele Secondary school in 2020. The program seeks to increase the number of young people attending higher education and pursuing STEM careers. Specific program activities and support will be implemented each year to ensure students meet the designed yearly short-term outcomes.
BTE participants will engage in one of the following three streams of support:
- Tertiary Stream: In this stream the priority will be to support all the learners with extra classes and tutoring in the STEM-fields to drive them towards better Grade 12 results, which will allow them access to Universities. In Year 1, BTE participants will be exposed to a wide variety of careers. In subsequent years, participants will learn more about specific careers of interest, and where possible, participate in job shadowing opportunities. BTE participants will also have a peer-mentor (a current higher education student) who can support and offer guidance on the University requirements and challenges of studies in the STEM-related degrees.
- Employment Stream: In this stream the focus will be on exploring possible career paths available for learners who will not qualify for tertiary education. The BTE participants will be exposed to possible workplace opportunities that can be accessed by obtaining qualifications through skills programmes, learnerships and internships. The training programmes will be on different South African National Qualification levels ranging between levels 4 to 5 which will be presented by local TVET Colleges.
- Entrepreneurial Stream: In this steam, BTE participants will be introduced to both commercial enterprise opportunities, as well social entrepreneurial opportunities as a potential post-Grade 12 strategy. The unemployment crisis across South Africa necessitates that learners should be prepared to consider self-employment ventures. Social Enterprises (SE) have the double benefit of creating employment while simultaneously addressing pressing needs within their own communities.