Kariega’s biggest employer, Volkswagen Group SA. is on a mission to use the resources at its disposal to tackle some of the pressing issues affecting residents of the Garden Town —both inside and beyond its perimeter fencing.
While VWSA has for years assisted the town in various aspects of funding, community development and upliftment education and conservation. It has further broadened its reach in 2021 by taking on the tasks of coronavirus vaccinations and sanitisation. VWSA has opened a Covid-19 vaccination centre, which saw more than 400 of the company’s employees receiving their jabs in the first week.
The VWSA vaccination centre, which was set up at the VW PeoplePavilion near the plant in Kariega began administering the Pfizer vaccines to VWSA employees on August 2. In its first week, the centre vaccinated 426 employees, with plans to vaccinate 150 employees a day from this week.
VWSA chair and managing director Dr Robert Cisek said the centre played an important role in the company’s duty to safeguard its employees against Covid-19.
“VWSA has played an instrumental role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic so far. As one of the largest employers in the Eastern Caps, we take the responsibility of protecting our employees and the community against Covid-19 seriously. This vaccination centre is an important part of fulfilling that duty and I are proud of each employee who supports us in our duty by choosing to vaccinate.” Cisek said.
The process to establish the vaccination centre started a few months ago after the centre was approved and accredited by the department of health as a workplace vaccination site. The centre is staffed by two administrators and four professional nurses, some of whom are contract staff and some from the company’s wellness centre. At the current pace and envisaged planning, it is expected to take 16 working days to vaccinate all willing employees who have not yet received both doses of the vaccines.
Once done with employees, the company plans to expand the vaccination programme to VWSA’s on-site service providers and then VWSA employees’ family members who live with them.
Earlier this year, the group donated three tonnes of sand-tests to 25 local nonprofit organisations, through its Community Trust. Some of the beneficiaries included the Rape Crisis Centre and Uviwe Child and Youth Services. In addition to Covid-19 assistance, VWSA continued with its focus of community upliftment through education.
A further 520 unemployed youth were given a chance to gain valuable work experience earlier in 2021 as part of the National Youth Employment Service (YES) programme. These candidates were deployed for 14 months at VWSA instead of the normal 12-month contract.
The YES programme was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 to enable young people without formal qualifications to gain work experience, with the aim of time proving their chances at long-term, quality employment. VWSA is participating for the third consecutive year, contributing a total of 1,600 work opportunities to the programme.
The group also recently funded the studies of 10 teachers from Kariega who were the first graduates of a new university course aimed at improving literacy teaching at the foundation phase level. The 10 teachers were recently awarded an Advanced Certificate in Foundation Phase Literacy Teaching from Rhodes University during the university‘s 2021 graduation ceremonies.
VWSA has established literacy centres at five schools in the Kariega district, including, Iames Ntungwana, Vuba, Noninzi Luzipho, Ntlemeza and Mngcunube Primary Schools. All the teachers who graduated from the Advanced Certificate course are staff at these schools.
Last month, a new Volkswagen Kombi was handed over to Wilderness Foundation Africa (WFA), which it will use for transport in its different youth development programmes.
These provincial progammes include the Siyanela training programme, the Umzi Wethua conservation programme and the lmbewu wilderness trails.