While trying to address the problem of illegal ingredients and adverse effects from cosmetics, the Services SETA, with the assistance of UCT, also became aware that South Africa did not have a single graduate programme to train scientists to become cosmetic chemists. The Services SETA then funded the development of a curriculum for Advanced Diploma in Cosmetic Formulation Science, a first in Africa. The organisation also funded 16 students on the programme which is co-ordinated by Ms Ntombenhle Sishi a cosmetic chemist who has 25 years of industry experience.
The post-grad diploma creates a new career path for BSc (chemistry or equivalent) graduates to follow a career in cosmetics. This is a one-year blended programme, allowing BSc graduates to spend two blocks (of seven and four weeks) at the university laboratory learning the scientific theory of cosmetic formulation, skin physiology, adverse effects of cosmetic ingredients, industry regulations and ethics. The rest of the year is spent in laboratories of leading companies in the country for experiential training.
The first group of seven students was enrolled in the programme in June 2017 and the second group of nine students in January 2018. After completing theoretical training, these graduates were placed in the laboratories of the following companies:
• Jabu Stone
• Aersol Cosmetics
• Phepsile Cosmetics
All the 16 students, the first cohort of the programme, graduated on 14 December 2018. The Services SETA, especially the Personal Care Services Chamber, is very proud of this huge achievement in cosmetic science in South Africa. The organisation hopes to see more graduates completing this programme so they can meaningfully contribute towards South Africa’s economic growth and protection of consumers from potential harm of cosmetic products.
Bursaries and internship programmes are some of the learning pathways that the Services SETA funds and facilitates. The chairperson of the Personal Care Chamber, Victor Msomi, is delighted with the students’ 100% pass rate in this pioneering programme. “It’s not normal to see a 100% pass rate for such programmes. We congratulate the university and students for this incredible achievement,” Msomi says.
Vuyokazi Namntu is one of the beneficiaries of the Services SETA and UCT partnership. Eighteen months after graduating with a Masters in Chemical Engineering she remained unemployed and was starting to lose hope about her prospects of finding a job. After being selected for the programme, her career took off. She hopes to get a permanent position at Unilever where she completed her internship.
“This programme has changed my life, I can now produce and mix my own creams and gels that are safe,” she says.
The Services SETA partners with stakeholders and institutions of higher learning in supporting inclusive growth and development by rolling out fit-for-purpose skills development interventions that will lead to the alleviation of poverty, reduction of unemployment and eradication of inequality in South Africa.