In July of this year, CloudSmiths sponsored a very successful eight-week youth development programme run by the School of Hard Knocks (SoHK) in partnership with the award-winning youth development organisation Ikamva Youth. Cloudsmiths were so impressed with the efforts of SoHK in addressing youth unemployment – described by President Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa’s biggest problem – that they pledged a sponsorship to SoHK at a Rugby Business Network event in April 2019. Jason Timm (Sales Director and Founder of Cloudsmiths) commented: “We were so moved by what School of Hard Knocks is doing that we felt the need to contribute and encourage other corporates to donate too”.

Founded in mid-2016, SoHK (a not-for-profit organisation) uses rugby to teach young people to find and handle the rigours of their first formal job. SoHK aims to reach hundreds of 18-25 year olds each year, to provide them with the specific support that they need to get their first formal job: “We believe that by undergoing tough physical activities that challenge youth, we make clear comparisons with working hard and developing skills in search of and in work”, explains Sloan Scott, the South African director of SoHK. The rugby kick-off activity is followed by course work and finally a fun activity – such as pizza eating – to round off the day.

SoHK also deliver short courses for adults that build life and employability skills such as goal-setting, anger and fear management, CV-writing, and interview preparation. For school children at risk of exclusion from mainstream education, they offer weekly rugby coaching and mentoring, based on the philosophy that, by developing inner resources, these children can grow in their ability to self-assess, manage their emotions, and make better choices about education, risky behaviour and careers.

CloudSmiths sponsored twenty young people from Gugulethu, a township 15 km from Cape Town, to participate in one of the short courses. The eight-week programme aims to build life and employability skills to enable the participants to find employment and realise their true potential. The programme runs from 17th July to 4th September, 2019, taking place every Wednesday – each session kicking off with an hour of touch rugby!

As SoHK state on their website (www.schoolofhardknocks.co.za), “Life is an uneven playing field, we help level it out”. Other ways you can help: visit and play touch rugby with participants; mentor a participant by becoming a ‘go to’ for career advice; conduct mock interviews with participants; or follow Cloudsmiths’ lead by becoming a programme sponsor!

Follow SoHK’s success stories on instagram @sohk_sa