Many young South Africans lack the essential “soft” skills to succeed in the workplace, despite having the appropriate training and eagerness to work. Supported by Harambee, part of the Skills for Prosperity (S4P) programme, BluLever Education has designed and developed a “kick-off initiative” specifically to prepare young people for trade careers.

The Leadership Base Camp (LBC) is an intense two-month life-skills and work-readiness programme. It is the ultimate preparation that all young apprentices need to have successful and valuable careers and add value to society. It provides participants with the opportunity to mature, develop, and grow. BluLever also uses it to assess if candidates are the right fit for its three-year trade apprenticeship programme. The LBC is the final selection stage for the BluLever Apprenticeship, with 30 of each cohort of 40 students chosen for the apprenticeship, ensuring the best possible candidates become apprentices.

Phase one of LBC is entirely residential, in the foothills of the World Biosphere Reserve known as the Magaliesberg mountains, which lie in the north of the country. A typical day begins at 5.30 am with a one-hour workout, followed by a full day of student-led learning. The content helps students get out of their comfort zone and strive for rapid personal growth through an intentionally supportive environment.

“What I have learnt so far in the three weeks of being here is something that some people get to learn over years of struggling”, says one student.

Every week has a theme that integrates and connects learnings such as “Who Am I”, “Working Together”, and “Gearing Up For Work”. The final week of phase one includes a three-day, 40km hike that allows students to reflect on their learnings and new habits while walking the beautiful Kings Kloof trails.

“In my life, I haven’t slept outside or gone on a hike. So that experience for me was breathtaking, and I wanted to see myself at the front so I could see the horizon,” says another student.

Phase two takes place at the world-class BluLever campus. Over two weeks, students build on their interpersonal and communication skills, exploring themes like “Preparing for Success” and “Work-readiness”.

The third and final phase of LBC sees students spending a week gaining workplace exposure through a community project to experience first-hand the work they will be doing if they embark on a career as an artisan.

A testament to the efficacy of the programme is the LBC graduation. The energy of personal achievement and excitement is palpable as students share reflections: “You gave hope to hopeless people, and now I understand who I am, what I want and how to be a bigger person.”

While currently used as a final assessment tool, the LBC is designed as a stand-alone programme. The experience will help any young person build confidence and take control of their life with powerful self-leadership learnings to become holistically ready to add value in any workplace. BluLever intends to grow the programme to help impact more young people’s lives.

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