Tanwyn Wagenaar, who received a scholarship in 2017 from REISA solar farm to study medicine at the University of the Free State, recently attended a workshop in Johannesburg with fellow scholarship recipients, to prepare for the next stage of his career.

“While you are studying, you are still in your comfort zone. But, when you start working, all of a sudden you have to meet different people with different personalities, and you are exposed to a whole new environment. This is why bridging the gap between studying and working is so important,” explained Tanwyn, MBChB student at the University of the Free State.

Tanwyn is one of fourteen scholarship recipients from REISA Solar Farm, Umoya Energy Wind Farm and Cookhouse Wind Farm that spent part of their winter term holiday attending programmes designed to equip students with the necessary skills required for them to be successful students and to address real-life problems in a collaborative way, and prepare for the so-called 21st century learning.

“The gap between leaving school, successfully completing a degree and entering the workspace is enormous and can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for youth coming from small towns and rural areas,” explained Veronique Isaacs, Regional Community Operations Manager for REISA solar farm.

There are different programmes for the various academic years, dealing with fundamental skills needed for success in studies and life. In addition to this, the workshop is tailored to fill skills gaps for different faculties of studies, such as a first-year programme for Engineering and Science students that deals with Threshold Concepts in Maths, Science and Technology.

Tanywyn expressed the value of the workshop, specifically the impact of learning to work in groups, “After the workshop I feel more comfortable interacting and meeting new people, plus I have also learnt some valuable time-management skills.”

The programme for final year, Honours and post-graduate students is devoted to the two main requirements of work readiness – emotional intelligence and thinking agility.

“For many young people, being awarded a scholarship is often the only option available for after-school education. However, we like to support our learners with more than just financial assistance as it is often life skills and emotional integration that lead to unnecessary stress and dropouts,” added Isaacs.

The overall focus of all programmes is on preparation for the 21st century learning, namely Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity (Innovation). For these reasons the workshop’s main programme is interspersed with shorter workshops on Life, Learning, Innovation and Thinking Strategies that incorporates experts and practitioners to share their wisdom.

The workshops are run by Study Trust, an educational Trust that helps young people to access tertiary education, acquire professional skills and gain employment. Their programmes complement students’ technical and academic skills, preparing them for meaningful employment and to become active contributors to the economy.

The REISA Solar Farm Scholarship Programme launched four years ago to provide tertiary education funding for youth. The focus is to contribute towards human resource development in fields considered critical for the South African economy.

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