Sewing Futures of Hope

Through developing young people’s skills in sewing, MRP Foundation is jump starting careers and equipping local manufacturers
MRP Foundation Jump Start Production Programme Graduation 2020

CELEBRATING SKILLS: Jump Start’s Production Programme combines theory and work experience to help youth become qualified machinists that can immediately add value to manufacturers as well as start their own home sewing businesses. Image: MRP Foundation / Pierre Tostee


  • 18 youth successfully completed the Jump Start Production Programme

  • They learnt sewing skills for bulk manufacturing and gained valuable work experience 

  • 12 of the 18 Production graduates found employment in local manufacturing firms with others upskilled to start their own business at home

  • Supporting local manufacturers and the cottage industry directly supports South Africa’s economy


An overwhelming sense of gratitude was in the air at the Jump Start Production Programme Graduation on March 11 at Eagle Wind Manor Guesthouse in KwaZulu-Natal’s Valley of 1000 Hills, where eighteen young people celebrated jump starting their careers as qualified machinists. Many of the ‘Jump Starters’ were unemployed before joining the work-readiness course that was run in partnership with local Durban manufacturer, Upway Trading.

For the past 6 months, these young people learnt foundational concepts in basic production and manufacturing as well as gained work experience in sewing. Sewing is a valuable skill as it boosts confidence, exercises creativity and offers individuals the ability to mend and sew textile products for themselves or others.

Hammarsdale resident, Thokozile Phakathi, was unemployed and stayed at home before starting the Production Course. She is now employed full time at Upway Trading and enjoys sewing so much that she has started a small home business to make extra money. She shared her experience of the course with the audience of graduates, partners and staff.

“I didn’t know how to sew so it was hard in the beginning; I never thought I could be a machinist. But whenever I was about to give up, our trainer encouraged me and I started enjoying it. Now I can work at home and make money and help the household — I am happy about that. My advice for young people who are at home is to take every opportunity even if it seems like less. I thought sewing was only for old people but you can support yourself and it’s fun. I recommend the internship as it was a good learning experience.”

For graduate, Nokuthula Zuma, the rain outside signalled a sign of blessing. The 29-year-old was also unemployed before joining the Production Course and couldn’t find work to support herself and her family.

“I gained experience and learnt handiwork and how to work for myself. I work at home and am trying to run a business. Thank you to MRP Foundation for this opportunity to learn how to use a machine and thank you Upway Trading, who have given us a place to learn. This course is a good opportunity for others.”

By MRP Foundation working closely with local manufacturers, the Production Course developed specific industry-required skills that can immediately add value to manufacturers. After seeing the course to completion, Managing Director of Upway Trading, Wasim Seedat, believes in the programme’s ability to skill people.

“It was fascinating to see how people who had no understanding of sewing became knowledgable and were more skilled than my other machinists because they learnt the theory behind the machine and productivity. There are machinists but there is a shortage of skilled machinists.”

Karen Wells, Head of MRP Foundation, congratulated the 18 young people for sticking with the course and encouraged them to continue building on the knowledge they had just learnt.

“As a youth development organisation, MRP Foundation connects young people to the working world. We have such a heart for this country, particularly retail and manufacturing, as these two sectors are so important in our economy. What we need to do is connect young people to them through skills, and in this course, we do that through training youth to become qualified machinists. The world of work and the reality of manufacturing is changing so I encourage the graduates to keep learning.”


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