Following on the remarkable success of the initial management training courses at SAFE, the programme is now set to be rolled out to all SAFE farms.
The courses are aimed at junior to middle management farm workers and are open to any farm employees with potential who show a willingness to improve their leadership skills. Managers who want to refresh their skills are also invited to attend the courses.
Four beneficiaries of the first round of training are already employed as team leaders at SAFE’s Marblehall farm and two “graduate” employees are in management positions at Hoedspruit.
Speaking after the initial success of the first courses, Rian du Toit, SAFE Group Manager for Human Resources, who initiated the groundbreaking programme, said there will be slight changes to the course as not all farms are at the same level of development.
“What has, however, been very clear is that it is critical that we create an environment of trust where all candidates including members of the current management team can participate freely.
According to Dries van Rooyen, General Manager of Farming Operations at SAFE, training managers from within – offering existing experienced staff the opportunity – makes perfect sense. “They have been working on these farms for years so they can bring valuable insight to their work that a new manager “parachuted ” onto the farm from outside is not able to do.
“As an added bonus for SAFE the courses are great for morale on the farms, building loyalty to the company and delivering good results. Farm workers can see that there is a real future for them at SAFE. ”
None of their initial candidates have failed the course, says Rian. “Trainees are assessed on a continuous basis and we have not yet experienced a single drop out.
“We are also very pleased that the response has been extremely positive and spirits are high. What is abundantly clear is that we have not yet come to understand the full value that the programme is having on our employees and their loyalty to, and support for, SAFE.
“I believe that we are instilling the belief that working at SAFE is not merely a job. Our workers now know that if they show initiative, they have the opportunity to develop a career with us.”
The courses are registered with the AGRISETA, the sector education and training authority for the agricultural sector. They are designed to include people with no education at all, those who are illiterate and those who have some education. They are conducted on the farms during “low” season when farm workers are not fully engaged in planting, harvesting or other critical farm work.
According to Rian, SAFE has a progressive approach that empowers the people employed by the company to grow and develop their skills. The training programme comprises technical and people management components with experts being called upon to explain and illustrate the farm activities as required. “Preferably the actual activities on the farm at the time of the training should be mimicked in the training,” says Rian.
Certificates are issued to those who complete the programme.