Leading physical asset management company, Pragma, hosted its fourth official University Student Vacation Training Programme during the July holiday break and received an overall rating of 94% from the students. Since its inception in 2011, the three-week programme (specifically aimed at B.Eng. Industrial, Mechanical and Electrical students in their third or fourth year of study), has been an enormous success with an increasing amount of applicants applying to be part of this award winning programme.
Stéphan Pieterse, People and Organisational Development Manager at Pragma say that Pragma believes that through this programme they manage to equip students with a solid grounding in the field of physical asset management. “South Africa is in dire need of engineers that understand the importance of managing our country’s physical assets including roads, water treatment plants, power stations and distribution networks, mines, manufacturing facilities, hospitals and more. Our country needs this focus in order to remain competitive globally, but also to ensure a sustainable future for all South Africans.”
According to Pieterse, Pragma views engagement with students as of the utmost importance. “We view this programme as an important opportunity to attract the brightest young talent from SAs universities. It also offers us the opportunity to introduce future engineers to the field of physical asset management and the value that could be unlocked by responsible asset owners when partnering with Pragma.”
This year, Pragma received more than 140 applications from university students across the country of which ten students, reflecting South Africa’s diverse culture, were selected. The content of the training programme ensures that the students are introduced to the company, the concepts of physical asset management and Pragma’s service offering. A formal exam is written during the last week for which a 70% pass rate is required to graduate from the programme.”
Included in the programme is exposure to the work of an Asset Care Engineer at a Pragma client. Students work together in groups and are assigned real projects. They are guided by Pragma’s Asset Care Engineers in the process of researching the problem, analysis of it and the compilation of a solution, which they need to present in front of an audience at the final day of the programme.
Adds Pieterse: “The students have the privilege to be part of various coaching and mentoring sessions with Pragma’s senior management team in order to provide them with valuable life and career lessons. During the programme, students are also taken on a journey to discover their strengths (using Marcus Buckingham’s book, Now Discover Your Strengths). They are guided to a place where they have a clear understanding of their strengths and how to start applying them in their young lives.
“The class of 2014 gave the programme an overall rating of 94%, all agreeing that it had a big impact on their professional and personal lives. The programme is continually reviewed and improved upon. This year’s top student, with an overall programme mark of 84.5% was Nina van Rooyen, a third year Industrial Engineering Student at the University of Stellenbosch. She was also voted ‘most caring’ by the other students on the programme.”
Asked about the future of the programme, Pieterse continues: “Pragma’s vision for the programme is that it will become the benchmark for other companies in South Africa (and the world for that matter) on how these types of programmes should be designed and executed. I firmly believe that the long-term solutions for the challenges we face in our country are based in the proper education of our youth. By investing in the youth of South Africa in this manner, we can help to ensure a better future for its citizens – a future built upon solid values and people that want to go out there and be the change they want to see in this world.”
Pieterse concludes: “Students who completed the three-week Student Training Programme will definitely have an advantage over other candidates when applying for an engineering position, not only at Pragma, but also at other engineering firms. Lastly, it’s a huge privilege for me and my colleagues to work with these bright young people who I know will go out there and make a difference in the world, not only as engineers, but also as citizens of this beautiful country.”
Over the last number of years, the company has established itself as an employer of choice, especially for industrial engineers. Pragma was voted the 4th and 6th best small company to work for in 2012 and 2013 respectively as well as the Building, Construction and Engineering category winner in Deloitte’s Best Company to work for Survey from 2009 to 2013. In 2013, Pragma finished as second runner up in the Best Graduate Trainee Programme category of the Achiever Awards component of the BHP Billiton Skills Development Summit. The company was recognised for its “Pragma is preparing tomorrow’s engineers” entry. In 2012, they also achieved the first runner up position in the category Best Training Programme: Engineering Sector.
Some feedback from a few of the students themselves:
“It was by far the best vacation training I ever had and I am 100% sure that I will never come across such a good programme in my life again, as I have worked a few times… the overall feedback is 150% positive. You added value. More than you’ll know. Many, many thanks”
(Nina van Rooyen, 2014 Alumni)
“What I am sure about is that now I am a better person than I was when I first came to Pragma. I don’t know how I can explain the joy I have inside me to see such a successful organization working in this good manner. My experience with Pragma is a century memory that will always blow my mind the way they care about people. Hope in future all companies will operate in this good manner…”
“Honestly speaking, I have been better prepared for life after university in the 3 weeks that I have been here than the 3 years I have spent at university!”
(William Opondo, 2013 Alumni)
“I feel Pragma is the benchmark. So far no other company I’ve been involved in has such a strong vision about the development of its people.”
(Darius Booyens, 2013 Alumni)