YOUNG and energetic people are invited to apply for study bursaries for the 2017 academic year, also offering them job opportunities with the Shoprite Group on completion of their studies. The group announced the bursary programme during Youth Month celebrations in June.The bursary scheme will support students who are studying to obtain qualifications in areas such as pharmacy, chartered accounting, supply chain management and logistics, IT, industrial engineering, hospitality, retail business management and marketing.Shoprite says in a statement that it has awarded more than 2 700 bursaries, valued at over R110 million, over the past 20 years. “This commitment is in line with its belief that youth education is central to the prosperity of our country and the key to gainful employment,” stated Tsholofelo Dumakude, the the group’s publicity manager.Applications are now open to first- and second-year students, as well as to matriculants applying to study one of these programmes at a South African University.Elaborating on the bursary programme, Dumakode stated that the bursaries provided financial study assistance of up to R70 000 a year that were linked to work-back agreements with Shoprite, ensuring employment opportunities for bursary holders once they had graduated and giving them everything they needed to kick-start a great career. “Students and bursary applicants voted Shoprite the number-one retail industry employer of choice in 2015, as accredited by the South African Graduate Employers Association, so the bursary programme can make dreams come true.”Callie Burger, human resources director at Shoprite, says education creates economic freedom and enables people to reach their full potential in life.“As an organisation we recognise the enormous value of investing in education and giving young people the opportunity to learn, to obtain a qualification and to acquire the skills needed to gain employment.”For Kimberly Soobramoney, trainee divisional financial manager in Gauteng, the programme had been life-changing. As a benficiary it eliminated the stress of having to pay university fees, she said.Soobramoney is now a qualified chartered accountant who studied BCom Accounting and then got onto Shoprite’s TOPP (Training Outside Public Practice) programme. “I did not have to worry about the cost of my books or the cost of travelling to campus daily. This allowed me to solely focus on my studies. It also eased the stress of job hunting,” she said.“The TOPP programme has allowed me to transform into a confident individual who is ready to take on new challenges and risks. My interactive skills and adaptability have improved tremendously.”Soobramoney advised people joining the TOPP programme “to make every moment count”.“The company is filled with a variety of people that have years of experience, knowledge and skills and they are always ready to share that knowledge with those who are willing to learn. This programme provides the best foundation, not only in finance, but also in terms of learning about the business itself.”Mpilo Sicwebu, a current Shoprite bursary holder studying BCom Accounting at Wits, says that “to believe in yourself is one thing, but to have others believe in you simply intensifies your need and hunger for success. This is what I felt when I was chosen, amongst many, to be a recipient of a bursary from the Shoprite Group. “It’s no secret that many of our country’s youth don’t get the opportunity to realise their dreams due to financial constraints. This bursary programme has given me access to one of the country’s finest tertiary institutions as well as an opportunity to one day, be a part of one of Africa’s biggest retail chains.”Students interested in applying can check out www.shopritebemore.com before applications close on 30 September.