South Africa


  • Service: Infrastructure, Human Resources
  • Type: Press release
  • Date: 2013/06/21

Prestigious Internship Programme - FAQ 

Frequently Asked Questions of the Prestigious Internship Programme, launched 21 June 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Prestigious Internship Programme?

The internship programme was initiated in part based on a tender that KPMG and Sekela jointly won for an operation clean audit engagement at the Department of Public Works (DPW). KPMG initiated this internship on the 4th February 2013 with the recruitment of 64 unemployed graduates. These graduates were up-skilled and equipped with the required technical and professional skills to become intern consultants. To establish this internship programme as a benchmark for public-private partnership that really delivers, through various levels of engagement to date, the South African Graduates Development Association (SAGDA), the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), Nedbank and Old Mutual have joined this initiative taking it to the next level – a Prestigious Internship.

The vision is to create a responsive human capital pipeline for the development of competent graduates. The Prestigious Internship Programme therefore provides a preparation platform to up skill unemployed graduates, who will gain exposure through work-integrated learning and on-the-job experience that will see them grow in their future careers.


  • To create a “Prestigious Internship” to recruit and place 64 unemployed graduates to serve as interns in the Department of Public Works (DPW) and enable graduates to on-the-job consulting experience;
  • To expose the 64 interns to accounting and finance systems and procedures within the DPW to provide work exposure and experience;
  • To prepare and supervise the interns as invaluable human capital resources to improve the audit outcomes of the national DPW;
  • Provide human capital capacity to the DPW and the turn-around strategy team led by KPMG;
  • To offer capacity building workshops and training to improve retention of interns within the DPW upon expiry of the internship
  • To contribute in responding to South Africa’s pressing challenges that are impacting on the ability of our economy to expand and provide increased employment opportunities;
  • To foster skills transfer with bias to addressing the government’s transformational and developmental imperatives;
  • The identification of unemployed graduates for re-skilling and up-skilling to address the critical skills shortage and provide such graduates with better opportunities for advancement.

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How did the project come to be?

The Minister of DPW, Mr. Thembelani Nxesi approached SAGDA in April 2012 to prepare unemployed graduates that may work in their offices around the country as the DPW had committed to the development of unemployed graduates and youth in South Africa as it embarked on its turnaround journey.

In line with the DPW turn-around strategy a tender was put out, which KPMG and Sekela jointly bid for and were successfully awarded, for the Intervention to improve the audit outcomes of the National Department of Public Works. In line with the DPW’s commitment, it was a requirement of the bid won by KPMG and Sekela that the firms make internships available for unemployed graduates in South Africa.

Working with the National Youth Development Agency and several South African universities, KPMG launched Project Hands, where the firm contracted 64 graduates to work in the offices of the DPW to assist with clearing of audit findings. However, the project experienced higher than expected turnover due to a number of interns being poached by other companies offering higher paying permanent employment opportunities. This resultantly affected the continuity of the work and the DPW asked SAGDA to investigate means of increasing the stipend to interns. With 16 years of expertise in managing internships SAGDA engaged with its partners who could assist in making the internship more attractive and brought other funders such as Nedbank, TETA and Old Mutual to the project.

In addition to the valuable work experience that the interns will gain from this programme, with the additional funding, the aligned partners were also able to offer the interns not only higher than industry norm basic stipends, but access to benefits like UIF, Hospital Plan or Medical aid plan, annual, sick and study leave, that they ordinarily would not have access to during an internship – making this internship truly prestigious.

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Who are the partners to this project?


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Why and how have the partners engaged on this project?

Each aligned partner plays an important role in ensuring the success of this internship programme;

KPMG and Sekela were awarded a tender to intervene in the audit outcomes of the national DPW and part of the terms and conditions of this tender was to offer internship opportunities to unemployed graduates.

As part of this internship, KPMG provides guidance to the interns, monitors and evaluates their individual progress pay them a base stipend. KPMG initiated the recruitment of the 64 graduates and put the graduates through a week of technical and professional skills training prior to being paced at the DPW’s offices around the country. Each graduate has been equipped with a laptop and they work under the guidance and leadership of KPMG and Sekela.

The Minister of DPW, Honourable Minister Nxesi, requested Mr. Maqubela, CEO of the SAGDA to source “top-up” funding to increase the stipends being paid to the interns as part of the attraction and retention strategy. With SAGDA’s notable experience in managing internships, the organisation is also involved in sourcing qualified unemployed graduates, tracking their development and individual progress through this programme.

As an organisation TETA has made a commitment to avail funding to the amount of R 54 million for internship or workplace experience and other initiatives that aim to help unemployed graduates in the country to be more work ready. This commitment covers learners from both Further Education and Training Colleges (FET) and Higher Education and Training (HET) institutions and will continue until 2016. For this Prestigious Internship programme, TETA has committed an additional stipend to be added to the based stipend paid by KPMG. In addition to this, TETA is offering bursaries to those of the interns who are still continuing their studies/education, transport and accommodation for those students who had to travel up for the launch in June 2013, and e-learning training following each interns individual evaluation.

Nedbank has contributed R 1 million towards this programme and the development of the interns, where the Old Mutual Foundation has invested R 500 000.00 towards the programme which will provide internship and workplace experience for 10 graduates through the DPW and Department of Social Development.

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What are the desired outcomes of this project?

There are two key outcomes from this project. Firstly, to provide enriching work experience for the interns who will develop core competencies that will assist them in finding future employment opportunities and to grow in their careers.

Secondly, to retain interns who can be absorbed into the DPW and offered permanent employment opportunities, where possible, to ensure continuity of the work undertaken to enable improved audit outcomes at DPW long after the KPMG contract has expired.

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How have the interns been selected and is this project region specific or nationwide?

KPMG worked through the National Youth Development Agency and several South African universities to identify potential candidates from around the country, who were then screened and interviewed to ensure that the best graduates who would be able to deliver on required tasks were selected. KPMG assessed the unemployed graduates against certain criteria to ensure they were a fit to the role.

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What skills or work-integrated-learning (WIL) will the graduates gain from their internship?

In addition to gaining real on-the-job experience in facilitating audit processes, the interns will also receive guidance and mentoring in developing key skills that are critical to their future employability, including;

  • Business ethics, etiquette
  • Exposure to and to gain a strong understanding of company culture towards client delivery
  • Work experience related to their field of study
  • Interpersonal skills in that they will learn to work with other employees
  • Team work and career development
  • End-user computing and office training
  • Professional skills training
  • Presentation skills
  • Technical training (on-the-job training, i.e. how to conduct interviews, etc.)

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How will the skills development/transfer and WIL be evaluated?

Mentors have been assigned to each of the interns who will manage a quarterly performance reviews process with their interns, where both the intern and his/her mentor submit a performance report.

In addition to these quarterly reviews, SAGDA undertake monthly assessments of each intern’s performance and conducts an Internship Performance Review quarterly.

From all of the quarterly reports, comparisons will be drawn to fairly document the intern’s individual progress at regular intervals.

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Does the internship lead to possible permanent employment opportunities for the interns?

It is envisaged that the interns will be absorbed into the DPW wherever possible and if not, they would be sufficiently competent to secure employment outside of the DPW and KPMG through SAGDA placement process.

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How will the overall project be evaluated?

Some of the key criteria that will be used to measure the success of this project include;

  • The audit results at the end of the project
  • Competency of the interns
  • Retention of interns by at least 50%
  • Monitoring the percentage of interns absorbed into the DPW on completion of their internship
  • Performance reviews to ensure that learning that has taken place.

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John McIntosh
Executive Partner: Advisory
Tel: +27 (0)11 647 6596