Power of growing workforces from within

Internship and mentorship programmes play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. | Freepik

Internship and mentorship programmes play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. | Freepik

Published Jan 9, 2024



It is a bitter irony that in a country with an unsustainably high unemployment rate, there is also a biting skills shortage, especially in the IT industry. In this environment, attracting talent may be hard enough; but retaining it proves even more challenging.

Attracting talent from the outside will always be an important pillar in any organisation’s recruitment strategy, especially for roles that need to be filled immediately and where there is no obvious candidate internally. However, shifting tactically to proactively build a human capital strategy to grow talent from within not only goes a long way towards addressing the challenges mentioned, it builds a stronger and more robust, resilient and competitive business. Most importantly, it also goes a long way towards developing individuals.

Support strategies

Growth is an ongoing journey. It definitely isn’t about achieving a certain milestone and then coasting for the rest of your career. Building an environment that encourages and supports growth is crucial.

Consider this: some individuals, for a number of reasons, excel at setting goals, honing skills and preparing for interviews; while others need guidance and closer support.

This disparity often boils down to factors such as knowledge, access to learning resources, and mentorship. These support structures must be in place if an organisation is serious about growing from within.


Secondly, there needs to be a focused and dedicated strategy to help existing staff and leaders buy into the company culture, values and mission.

When interns are brought into the business, this company culture is transferred to them through mentorship.

By the time a person is halfway through an internship programme, they are in many ways already entrenched and part of the organisation – a big step towards being a good employee fit for the organisation. As they work through the programme, they become aware of expectations and obligations, where they can add value, and where they need to grow. This is the opposite of an internship programme for its own sake.

Any business that has invested in internship programmes will know the difficulties of retaining interns who face challenging situations. This could mean the mentor is temporarily unavailable, or that there is pressure to deliver and there are parts of the job the intern is just not getting right yet. However, if they have already bought into the values and mission of the business, they’ll see their potential future and growth, feel an affinity towards the organisation and be more likely to work through current challenges.

Development tools

At RedPanda Software, we firmly believe that the responsibility for personal growth lies with each team member. The onus is on them to put their hands up, to seek out challenges, to apply for internal positions, and to work with and learn from mentors. However, the company goes beyond this by arming team members with the essential tools and resources needed to foster their individual development.

This comprehensive approach includes facilitating goal-setting discussions with their managers, providing targeted training and developmental opportunities aligned with their roles, and extending our support to their personal aspirations. Moreover, we actively promote mentorship by encouraging interaction with our seasoned team members and implementing structured learning programmes to further enrich their skills and expertise.

We recognise that our employees' growth journeys are intertwined with our own. It’s not all rose-tinted glasses. While we celebrate our achievements, we acknowledge that our path to growth is not without its challenges. Some of the hurdles we face include the complexities of providing effective mentorship, the intricacies of tailoring individualised growth plans to diverse needs and goals, and the delicate balancing act of ensuring employees and juniors have the opportunity to grow without becoming overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

* Daniels is human capital director at RedPanda Software.