I am Nikita Marais and I am part of the Skills Accelerator program at RLabs in Cape Town. My journey started at the beginning of 2021. I decided to take a break from college and work in my break.

During my break, I was employed by RLabs and the difficult part was the uncertainty of getting employed, considering that I have yet to complete my studies. However, this program allowed me to be upskilled in something that I love and continue my journey of work. The support system I have at home played a big role in this journey. With the help of my mother, I found the opportunity on Facebook.

Before joining the program, I was very afraid of the future. I did not know how to move forward with my life. Other people’s opinions mattered far too much in my life. This program gave me my power back. It gave me the confidence to expand in my career and to be sustainable through self-learning. RLabs has taught me many things but the one that sticks with me is that I am more than capable of being more and doing more if my sights are set on it. RLabs has taught me that character development is just as important as success. My initial intention for joining was to simply receive employment but very quickly I discovered that there is more being offered and I wanted those opportunities to further expand my skills and have experience.

Nikita Marais

During the program, I have a desire to keep learning, keep being impacted by the different skills of people in their communities. I said yes to every opportunity that was presented to me. This helped me understand where I fit within the organisation and also open doors to more opportunities.

How this venture benefited me was that it gave me more confidence in my skills and to use them within the workforce. Back in college, an ex-lecturer of mine advised us as students that it is as important to have work experience as it is to have qualifications behind your name. I think that this program does both.

An interesting turning point was being challenged by working with people I did not want to work with and in the end, we ended up being good friends through understanding and communication.

This journey has opened my eyes to the opportunities that are in the world for young people. I saw the value that RLabs offers and even had the privilege of seeing one of my friends come into the amazing program.

My highlight of my journey so far with RLabs is the people I have gotten to know and the genuine friendships I have developed.

This is the first time I receive an income from a 9-5 job that is in the field I enjoy. I am now able to gain financial independence.

The YES smartphone apps are very encouraging and opened up my mind with how to be more effective in the workplace. One module I particularly enjoyed was the Yoga module, it helped with de-stressing after an intense day of work and to lead a healthy lifestyle that creates a balance between work and leisure.

My advice to youth out there is to put a lot of effort into yourself and who you are so that you can discover what it is you want for your life. From there, you can understand what you want to work towards. Do and discover different ways you can up-skill yourself and become even more valuable to a business or company.

I’d like to say thank you to RLabs, JP Morgan and YES for assisting us young people with becoming more confident and skilled in the respective fields we are in.

The Skills Accelerator is a proudly RLabs initiative that is made possible thanks to the support of JPMorgan Chase.

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