Brayden Smith declared war on a life of poverty when he decided to run a spaza shop to support his family while pursuing his dream of becoming a qualified artisan.
This, he explains, was so as not to be confined to working as a Security Guard for the rest of his life.
Smith is currently employed as an Electrician at Volkswagen Group SA in Uitenhage, responsible for fixing and reporting electrical faults on newly-produced vehicles to ensure production is at its maximum.
He started work as a Security Guard in 2001 after completing matric in 1999 because he could not secure funds to further his studies. His career goal was to become an engineer, but he faced severe financial constraints after his father lost his job.
“This unfortunate turn of events diverted my plans because I had to step-in and assist my father in ensuring our family’s survival. However, I treated this as a temporary obstacle rather than a definite failure because a lot depended on my success,” he explains.
In addition to providing for his family, Smith says his motivation for launching a successful career was the need to afford medical aid so that his wheelchair-bound son could access better medical health care.
In 2004, he received a Mechatronics learnership at Volkswagen Group SA, funded by the merSETA. He has since made strides to make a success of his career through hard-work and resilience.
“I completed the learnership in 2008 but because I wanted to be better positioned to access employment opportunities, I further enrolled for an advanced training programme in robotics and also did a multiskilling programme provided by my employer. This ultimately saw me qualify as an electrician,” Smith explains.
He continues: “I became one of the top qualifying artisans because my circumstances kept me focused. I knew that settling for the salary I was receiving as a Security Guard would see me working from hand-to mouth for the rest of my life.”
He encourages young people to work hard to achieve their full potential. “One should strive to reach for one’s dreams even in the midst of difficulties. When I was doing my learnership, I would sell chips and cold-drinks during lunch, and even took up cleaning jobs to keep my family afloat,” he explains.
Smith lauds the merSETA and his employer for helping him launch his career. “I was able to succeed because the merSETA and Volkswagen Group SA stirred up my ambition and made me realise that I could achieve greater things in life,” he adds.
Smith recently completed an NQFlevel 5 Operational Management qualification at the Project Management Institute. His academic aspiration is to become an electrical engineer.
Written by Alice Mamabolo