In an major milestone in career-based and vocational tertiary education in Botswana, the Choppies Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the local campus of the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, part of its international outreach network.
The MoU represents an educational and training partnership between the two parties in the area of tertiary retail coursework and qualifications. Limkokwing currently offers a selection of academic course study options for students interested in working towards a retail management career and this new partnership will enable students to engage with the hugely successful Choppies group to gain highly specialised, practical experience as they learn, through vacation and term-time sandwich placements, guest lectures and international learning assignments throughout the continental Choppies branch network. The partnership was cemented in an informal ceremony at the Choppies Commerce Park headquarters with Choppies’ Investor Relations Executive Vidya Sanooj signing on behalf of Chopppies and Cipack Mbakisano Maphosa, Director, Academic Quality Assurance, for Limkokwing.
Choppies CEO, Ramachandran Ottapathu, said for some time he had been concerned over the lack of suitable graduate candidates able to be fast-tracked through his Group’s management system. “Many tertiary students in the country who had set their post-graduation sights on the retail industry were forced to seek employment at entry-level, learning the ropes from the bottom up. This option retarded their career and earning prospects and consequently many would-be candidates were put off joining the sector. From the retailer’s standpoint, it was cumbersome and time-consuming to have to train up new graduate staff who had achieved paper qualifications but with no corresponding practical experience,” he said.
This situation was further crystallised in 2016 when the Group took on around 220 graduates for retail training with offers of future employment where vacancies existed for those whose probationary period proved successful. It was at this point that Ottapathu took the bold decision to seek out an educational partner to offer students a fast-tracked option to their retail end-goal. Familiar with the Walmart Group’s graduate programmes in the United States, he was determined to offer local students similar opportunities.
According to Walmart CEO, Greg Foram: “Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success. We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers”.
This same philosophy has now been embraced by Ottapathu who explained that students will have the opportunity for more pertinent curriculum coursework supplemented with hands-on, in-store training during their vacations. In this way, Choppies will gain access to a pool of junior management graduates, fully conversant with corporate operating methodology and general retail best practice.
It is hoped that through this new Town and Gown co-operative initiative, Botswana will be able to turn out talented, rounded retail management trainees who will take the local retail sector to new levels of service, standards and profitability.