Paramount Group has announced a multi-million rand high technology skills development programme with the Department of Military Veterans, aimed at advancing the South African defence industry.
Young descendants of military veterans, identified by the Department of Military Veterans, will work with employees from Paramount through a programme of bursaries for tertiary education placements and on the job apprenticeships.
Paramount on Thursday said the programme, which supports its existing internal initiative to invest in its current workforce, is being funded through the Paramount Group Trust. The programme ensures the majority of a third of all company profits made in South Africa are spent on education and skills development for descendants of military veterans, the company said.
Tens of millions of rands per year will be committed over the next period of the programme as it seeks to transfer core skills to the next generation.
“Veterans have made a huge contribution to this country and need to be recognised and valued for the role that they have played. It is our obligation to support their descendants and give them an opportunity to secure their own futures and make a contribution to the future of this industry,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount Group Executive Chairman.
“The South African defence industry is generally characterised by an ageing workforce. For it to be sustainable, it needs skills transfer, conducted in a long term, structured and controlled manner that benefits the entire country. Through this programme and in partnership with the Paramount Trust, there will be an investment in skills and it will additionally uplift the military veterans’ family units which have up until now been mostly neglected by the industry,” said Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe.
Dr Mathew Phosa, Chairman of the Paramount Group Trust, said that, “military veterans have been the key to the successful transformation of our country. This initiative will go a long way to recognising their role and to enabling their descendants to benefit from the sacrifices they made; to build a future for themselves and to play a role in driving this strategic industry forward.”
Paramount noted that the growth of a diversified and sophisticated defence industry is a key component of the government’s industrial development programme, encompassing a wide range of advanced research and innovation capabilities, specialised design and engineering expertise, project management and many other disciplines that make the defence industry a productive incubator for the industrialisation of the South African economy.
Ichikowitz said that South Africa was celebrating 20 years of democracy at the same time Paramount was celebrating 20 years of business. “Without the democracy we enjoy today Paramoutn and many other companies would not exist…It is sad that as a country we have not been able to pay respects to military veterans and their descendants.”
He added that he hoped other companies would also take up similar programmes. Ichikowitz said it was not the government’s responsibility to provide jobs, run businesses or protect the environment but every citizen’s responsibility. “It is not government’s responsibility – it is ours to take care of military veterans.”