Silica is acutely aware of the economic crisis facing our country, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. An even bigger crisis is the level of unemployment in South Africa. As a company, we recognise the critical role that youth play in our economy and country. Silica is fortunate enough to be able to provide vital employment prospects to youth who have struggled to enter the workplace
As part of our larger transformation strategy, Silica embarked on a partnership with YES4YOUTH, and in May 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown, took on 15 unemployed South African youth, with another 15 on boarded in July.
By providing this 1-year internship, Silica has committed to empower our interns, arm them with the knowledge, tools, and skills to make them, and keep them, employable and productive, and in this way give hope to, and strengthen our country and community.
The on boarding programme incorporated two weeks of technical and software skills training, and hardware and equipment training to get them started in their new roles. Many of the candidates had never previously worked before, so understandably, a few were nervous, to add to that, their first job would be entirely remote! So, time was spent preparing them mentally for remote working, and exposing them to the mentors that would be available to them during the year.
From the outset, our learning team focussed on inclusivity, engagement, and interaction, which created a warm, embracive atmosphere, and inspired the learning experience. One significant change, however, was the venue, where the team required a training area that could accommodate a small number of people in a large space, to allow for social distancing. Silica’s state-of-the-art auditorium with a big screen and impressive acoustics was the perfect venue to replace our smaller training rooms.
New starters were challenged to learn as much about each other and embrace the Silica values and culture, in a shorter space of time. To further establish our culture, the programme incorporated material that specifically dealt with building relationships via digital platforms and highlighted tips on developing great working relationships via platforms like MS Teams and LinkedIn.
More members of Silica’s Management and Operations teams were included in the programme, than in our normal line-up. This was organised throughout the two-week period to accommodate social distancing and keep the number of people in the room to a minimum. With social distancing strictly adhered to, the new starters got to meet their leaders and team members ‘mask to mask’.
The learning plan was streamlined to meet the needs of the team with whom the first intake would be working. They were taken through generic training required for all Silica employees, as well as Client specific modules. A blend of online training, lecture-based sessions, and interactive small group work was used, group members for each activity were rotated to increase the interaction with each other.
The result of this balance of technology, variety, interaction, and respect for physical distancing was a success. Our new starters were all equipped with laptops for remote working, rather than VDI’s.
The learners were encouraged to constantly communicate and be curious, not only during their on boarding but once they were up and running in their new roles. Silicans are curious learners who continuously challenge themselves and each other to collectively deliver better outcomes for our clients and our people. We inspire a culture of lifelong learning, with 60+% of our staff engaged in some form of continuous education, favouring online learning. The sky is the limit for these interns. We are providing tools that enable them to constantly develop their skills and add to their resumes, during the year they spend with us.
The Silica team has created a Mentor group, where any Silica employees who are in a position to share their time and knowledge can be connected to new starters who request mentorship. Mentor training and support are provided by the learning team, and the mentorship programme will form part of the overall Learning Path.
In line with our values, Silica encourages all employees to participate in both the mentoring of new starters, as well as developing their skills and knowledge by engaging in the courses included in the Learning Path. By taking the time to invest in, mentor, and coach our new employees, Silicans live the culture we continually drive throughout our organisation.
None of this was without the challenges faced by the candidates, as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions; such as being isolated from family and friends, the risk of using public transport, the impact that the virus has had on the livelihood of family members and friends, and the anxiety of starting a new job remotely.
We are proud that our new Silicans were up and running within 3 to 4 weeks after their on boarding experience. Despite a few connectivity issues which have been overcome, they have a great attitude, they are curious, excited and have embraced this opportunity. Communication between each of them and the team supporting them has been a constant feature well into them settling into their new roles.
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Silica is acutely aware of the economic crisis facing our country, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. An even bigger crisis is the level of unemployment in South Africa. As a company, we recognise the critical role that youth play in our economy and country. Silica is fortunate enough to be able to provide vital employment […]
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