Grassroots Community Development Trust:



Against all odds, into retail management. Pilot project to increase learner retention.


While the mandate of the Wholesale & Retail SETA is to transform the workplace through its learnership initiatives, the potential of this vital nation-building task is halved by the fact that as many as one in every two learners fails to last the distance and drops out before qualifying. This is a sad loss to the sector and an unacceptable return on investment. The Wholesale & Retail SETA decided to try something new.

Could specific pre-learnership training in world-of-work attitudes and thinking deliver better results and make more of learners' potential? Would this improve the rate of learner retention and ultimately fill the scarce skills gap in the sector? The Wholesale & Retail SETA decided to test this premise in partnership with Grassroots Community Development Trust and launched a pilot project for 30 learners.

Grassroots was selected because this NGO arm of The Pacific Institute, South Africa had created world-of-work preparation processes which had, over several years, been highly successful. A very high percentage of the financially and educationally disadvantaged candidates trained by Grassroots for another sector had gone on to achieve an NQF4 qualification and subsequent employment in that sector.

During the period of the project, Grassroots:

• Recruited candidates from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds through its community-based networks in Alexandra Township and Diepsloot.

• Took them through the Steps to Excellence© curriculum.

• Worked with them, using skilled and passionate facilitators, helping them to apply the principles learnt in Steps to Excellence© to the tough circumstances of their daily lives, and developing in them healthy attitudes and right mindsets for the demands of the world-of-work and the retail industry in particular.

• Worked in partnership with Shoprite Checkers, their employment and training provider, to guide the learners through the 12 month learnership.


When the pilot project ended, 73.4% or 22 of the 30 learners, had achieved their NQF4 management qualification through the Wholesale & Retail SETA. All were employed by Shoprite Checkers, 20 either as managers or trainee/designated managers, and two as supervisors. All were thus able to fill a scarce skills category. 15 of the learners had completed the programme in under 12 months, a first for Shoprite Checkers.

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