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Celebrating Youth - Engen’s Thaba Tukela is determined to stay on the positive side of life

| Social Responsibility

“Youth Month is an opportunity to celebrate and amplify the voice of young people who can make an impact on the world…but we must strive for a supportive and inclusive environment!”

This is the rallying cry of Thaba Tukela, a passionate Retail trainee on the Engen Graduate Development Programme who is currently completing his Honours degree at CPUT while developing his skills as an Engen Graduate Trainee.

Thaba, who grew up in Umtata in the Eastern Cape and is an alumnus of Little Flower Senior Secondary School, lives by the mantra: If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough, which he accredits to former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

After completing a National Diploma in Food Science & Technology in 2019, Thabo followed with an advanced diploma in Quality Engineering before moving onto an Honours degree in Supply Chain Management, which he is currently completing.

Thukela started his career at Engen in August last year, working in the Convenience Strategy & Partnership department in Cape Town. 

“My journey so far has been exciting and challenging at the same time, but I have managed to adapt as required. It’s been a rewarding time with career advancement opportunities, learning and development, networking, and collaboration as well as lots of hands-on experience,” reflects Tukela.

“The Engen Graduate Development Programme has provided me with many tools and skills that can be used in future positions, and I am grateful to have an amazing team who is always willing to assist and impart their knowledge,” he adds.

The now 28-year-old urges young South Africans to “Never give up! Even if your goals seem unattainable, keep going and your tenacity will help you realise your dreams.”

This Youth Month, his advice for young South African’s to identify their passion. 

“Take the time to explore your interests and discover what truly excites you because finding your passion will give you a clear direction and a strong motivation to pursue your dreams.

“If you love what you are doing, you will be rewarded with many moments of fulfilment.”

Tukela says one the biggest challenges he faced during his first year of university was struggling to meet deadlines because he tended to procrastinate.

To achieve his goals now, Thaba says instead of waiting until the last minute, he makes his own deadlines before the actual deadline.

“This makes sure I have enough time and I`m not scrambling at the end.”

Tukela credits his success to luck and the support and encouragement given to him by his parents, which has allowed him to pursue his dreams and realise his ambitions. 

“I have been incredibly lucky in my life; lucky to be healthy and born into a good family and receive a solid education.

“I understand that most people are not so lucky in their lives, which is why I am grateful for anything that I have managed to achieve, be it an excellent result in school, or at work.”

Continuing to attract and grow talented young people like Thaba Tukela demonstrates Engen’s ongoing commitment to developing our countries future experts and leaders. 

Furthermore, as a company that is passionate about progress and seeks to provide opportunities for talented young adults to explore new horizons, Engen’s Graduate Development Programme offers recent graduates, valuable work experience across a broad range of business functions. 

“The aim is to ensure that all participants emerge as highly employable individuals, bolstered by enhanced confidence, workplace experience, and a comprehensive understanding of working in teams,” says Engen Skills Development Manager, Mmalenyalo Galane.

Explains Galane further: “It is Engen’s ultimate reward to help set talented people up to pursue stimulating careers that won’t only benefit them personally, but also their families and the broader economy of South Africa.

“As a company, Engen is firmly committed to building tomorrow’s leaders and if we want to ensure that the youth of tomorrow are prepared for a rapidly changing world, we need to ensure that they have the right mix of skills for them to reach their full potential,” she adds.

In 2022, Engen invested R14.7million in Learnerships and Bursaries, along with a further R33 million in other social causes, such as its flagship CSI, programme, the Engen Maths and Science Schools.

Kicking off 35 years ago, the Engen Maths and Science Schools are central to Engen’s efforts to contribute to the growth and transformation of South Africa.

Engen’s manager of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, Dr James Nyawera explains: “EMSS works tirelessly to help transform young underprivileged people’s lives, with a focus of creating a diverse and vibrant workforce.

“Through the programme, supplementary tuition is provided to approximately 1 800 under-privileged Grade 10-12 learners across South Africa every year.”

Engen Maths and Science Schools are based in Cape Town with classes are held at Belgravia and Manzombotho High, Port Elizabeth, East London, Cala and Johannesburg, and in KwaZulu-Natal where classes sit at Fairvale High School, Ganges High School, Hillview High School and Umlazi Commercial High School.

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