13 November 2012 – Investing in an organisation’s people not only helps to empower that company’s employees, but also creates a more skilled, diverse and highly effective workforce, which will enhance your company’s performance and help strengthen its brand. This is something that Michelin Tyre Company South Africa learned firsthand when it recently implemented a successful learnership programme, which not only empowered the people in the company with disabilities, but created a new pool of talent from which the organisation will benefit from in future.
This is according to Beth Cook, CEO of Progression, an equity owned organisation that offers a wide range of Human Resource Development and Transformation solutions and one that has pioneered one of the most successful disability equity solutions in the country.
“In April 2011, Progression began working with Michelin Tyre Company South Africa to implement a transformational skills development programme for people with and without disabilities,” says Cook. “The project consisted of learnerships in business administration, generic management and the contact centre, all aligned with the National Qualification Framework (NQF).”
At the start of the project, Progression initiated a learnership programme for a person with a disability, as well as a disability equity audit to establish how many people with disabilities were employed at Michelin. In May 2012, Progression saw the project grow as a second stage was implemented. Six learnership projects for people with disabilities were launched in the middle of last year.
“We felt there was a need to maximise our skills development, with a genuine interest in transforming the career paths of people with disabilities,” says Sarah Donlin, Human Resources Manager at Michelin. “As an organisation that truly cares about its people, we are committed to a fair and diverse workplace and wanted to fully integrate people living with disabilities into our organisation, thereby creating opportunities for permanent employment.”
Cook says that when implementing a skills development programme, flexibility is key and the process is one of continual learning, adaptability and catering to the client’s unique needs. To do this, the client’s involvement and commitment is critical.
“Michelin went over and above the usual process, which is usually made up of learning and workplace experience,” she says. “Most of the learners have applied themselves with enthusiasm and eagerness, which was gratifying for us and the client.”
Cook says that Michelin Tyre Company South Africa and Sarah are to be commended for their passion and dedication to creating a fair and diverse work environment. “Michelin, through skills development and succession planning, hoped for an opportunity to create a pool of talent to be able to choose from and integrate permanently into the company, adding value, consistency and stability,” she added.
Donlin firmly believes that working with Progression makes strategic sense, with direct business benefits. From the start, she wanted the best calibre candidates with positive attitudes and open minds. “Now we have a pool of skilled resources to pull from, which will grow and strengthen our business,” she says. “Furthermore, having the learnership candidates at Michelin has been an eye-opener and we’ve seen a tangible difference in the attitude of management and staff towards people with disabilities “We’re pleased with the results the learnership programmes have shown thus far.”
“Committed to the fundamentals of diversity and transformation, as well as becoming a market leader through progressive new methods and creative thinking, Michelin Tyre Company has a strong future in terms of transformation,” says Cook. “The Progression methodology doesn’t just transform companies—it changes people’s lives. We’ve seen this with the success we’ve helped create at Michelin,” she concluded.