Graduate Internship Development Programme
The SETA-funded and recognised Graduate Internship Development Programme places successful graduates within divisions of PPS. It provides a valuable opportunity for inexperienced graduates to gain exposure to the world of work through a combination of structured learning and workplace experience. It has been part of our scope of activities since the Foundation’s inception.
Twenty-five graduates joined the programme in 2020. They had to kick-start their internships as the country went into a national lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19. This meant that in addition to starting a new job, these young professionals had to adjust to working from home. They were not phased, instead, they viewed it as an opportunity to show their mettle. True to the PPS values of extreme ownership, doing the right thing and doing the right thing and being eternally curious, these ambitions young individuals thrived and succeeded.
While the various business units’ continued demand for interns stands testament to the programme’s value, nothing so effectively speaks to its worth as the 17 former interns who progressed through their 12-month contracts to find permanent placement within PPS and continue to add value to operations today.
South Africa’s official unemployment rate reached a record high of 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020. Simply put, the number of people who joined the unemployment queue increased by 701 000 – bringing the number of unemployed people in South Africa to 7.2 million. Through the Graduate Internship Development Programme PPS endeavours to play its part in addressing this crisis by assisting unemployed young people.
PPS Pushes for the Youth in the Finance Industry
Every year, a new group of graduate interns join the Advisory Services and Enablement department. Fresh eyes mean fresh ideas. Passionate about youth development and building the leaders of the future, the division aims to retain a minimum of 50% of all graduate interns. We have been able to provide 60% of our 2020 graduate interns with permanent placements across the various areas of the distribution business.
Programmes like these enable us to contribute to building an inclusive financial planning industry, reducing unemployment in South Africa and also helps us fulfil our purpose of enriching professional lives. Our graduate interns are entrepreneurs in their own right and have been able to cultivate the skills of becoming fully-fledged financial advisers.
Being a financial adviser requires advanced people skills, consistent regulatory adoption, continuous professional development, ongoing servicing and of course, a sound understanding of the complexity of sales. The ultimate goal is that graduate financial advisers build up a client base for themselves and help other graduate professionals to attain financial independence. We need the youth to educate South Africans on the importance of financial security and how our financial planning solutions are created to allow professional members to live the lives they want to live, with support and assistance from PPS.
Our graduate interns are a vital part of our business and are involved in many strategic projects contributing to the direction of the business. They enable us to remain current and relevant with their innovative ideas, disruptive thinking and understanding of consumer trends. This is one of the greatest strengths of the graduate programme and our business as we are consistently able to improve business operations to meet the needs of our members.
Moreover, as more of our youth complete their education and enter the working environment, the more assistance they will need to help them navigate this new journey. The fact that less than 10% of South Africans are unable to retire at the same lifestyle level they maintained while working is a clear indication that younger people are needed in the financial services industry.
Our graduate financial advisers play a significant role in educating our youth and providing them with solutions towards financial freedom and security.
“We need the youth to educate South Africans on the importance of financial security and how our financial-planning products are created to allow professional members to live the lives they want to live, with support and assistance from PPS.”
Busting the Myth: PPS Interns Do More than Just Coffee
Before joining the PPS Graduate Internship Development Programme, Mahlatse Nkosi had the obscure idea that she would get to the workplace and make coffee, take minutes and do photocopying. To her pleasant surprise, she was seen as a real asset and an integral part of the PPS team from her first day. A year later and this talented young professional has seen immense personal and professional growth.
“Through the graduate programme I have been exposed to different aspects of the business that allowed me to create new networks. Being granted the opportunity to interact with both internal and external parties also assisted with my IQ and EQ development.”
The programme also gave Mahlatse a fighting chance to obtain an additional qualification through UNISA. She says that this changed her outlook on how leadership functions on the African continent. She adds that presenting potential areas of growth within the business to the PPS Group executive committee stood out as one of the most rewarding aspects of the programme.
“Being a part of a small department taught me to be hands-on, not get comfortable, to stay inquisitive, take in all the knowledge passed down and to make it work for me in the best possible way.”
From Graduate Intern To Full Time Employee
While completing his articles in 2019, Tyrone Niemack realised that a career as an attorney would not meet the preconceived expectations he had when he enrolled initially for an LLB degree. He then decided to do a course in Risk Management at Stellenbosch University to expand his knowledge of corporate compliance and risk strategies.
In late 2019, with only one month left in his contract of articles, the Graduate Internship Development Programme contacted Tyrone with an offer of employment with PPS Investments. “When I started my journey with PPS my main goal was to bring value to the business while learning everything I could about the company. I also wanted to solidify my role in the department that employed me.”
During his time in the operations department Tyrone had to engage with other business units. This meant that he got a broader view of the business and how the various business units interlink. He found this very valuable because it offered an opportunity to identify the area of the business that would best suit his skill set and interests.
In February 2021 Tyrone accepted a permanent position as a Legal Adviser with the Governance department of PPS Investments.
His advice to university students is that there is no set formula to achieving one’s goals. “Everyone’s journey is different. Trust the process and look for opportunities that will enable you to develop your skills as a professional.”
PPS GIDP: A Golden Ticket to Employment
After completing her 12-month internship with the PPS Insurance Risk Management division in the Short-Term Insurance space, Alison Marrie was employed permanently as a Risk Management Analyst. Alison does not shy away from expressing how proud she is of her personal growth since joining the PPS Graduate Internship Development Programme. She readily shares the valuable lessons learnt during her internship. “I have learnt to be eternally curious, to take extreme ownership and to do the right thing. These are the three core values that PPS effortlessly instils in its employees through the company’s warm and caring, yet professional corporate culture.”
Alison credits the many work-readiness training sessions provided by the PPS Academy and the compulsory leadership course through the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, for shaping her into the hard-working and dedicated individual she is today.
Speaking about how COVID-19 has disrupted her journey as a graduate, she admits that 2020 was not at all what she expected her first year of work to be like. “I have no complaints. PPS went above and beyond to ensure that COVID-19 did not rob us of the growth and development we were promised before starting the graduate programme.
“We were provided with the necessary hardware, software, accessories, data and communication platforms to ensure that we could work just as comfortably from home as we would have been able to in the office – and that is extreme ownership at its best.”
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DISCLAIMER: All group photos used in the publication were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.