ENGAGE* Programme: South Africa

Union Rights, Policy and Practice: Training for Global Union Activists - Training Programme for Participants from Africa, Asia, South and North America & Europe

Workers in both the formal and informal economies as well as trade unions are faced with rapid economic and social change. As yet, adequate regulatory and protective frameworks have not been found to meet the challenges imposed by the varying forces of globalisation. The current world economic crisis urgently requires the development of alternative policies and rules based on universal human rights, international social justice and democratic self-determination. However, to turn these policies and rules into reality a strong voice representing the interests of workers is needed. 

ENGAGE helps labour activists and trade unionists to acquire additional knowledge and tools enabling them to take an active part in public debate and the process of policy formulation and implementation. The Certificate Course made up of six modules constitutes the core of the activities of ENGAGE. The cause of the decade-long decline in the wage share and the requirements for a wage-led recovery path will be discussed and analysed during the training. The participants will jointly develop strategies to enforce decent work conditions along cross-national chains of production and to regulate financial markets in a way that promotes fair globalisation and inclusive societies. 

The topics to be discussed in the framework will include: 

  • Global Governance
  • Global Wage Policy and Finance
  • Labour and Development
  • Society and Development
  • Trade Union Capacity Building
  • Research Project

Target Group

Participation of labour activists and trade unionists from Africa, Asia, Latin and North America and Europe makes the ENGAGE training programme a truly unique international experience that offers new opportunities for global networking.

ENGAGE is part of the Global Labour University (GLU) network that has successfully established academic study opportunities for labour activists from all over the world at sites in Africa, Asia, South and North America and Europe with the aims of strengthening the intellectual and strategic capacity of workers and their organisations and fostering stronger working relationships among trade unions. Courses are taught by experienced teaching staff from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and other guest lecturers.

Practical Considerations

Certification: Upon successful completion of the training programme, participants will receive a short-course certificate of competence. 

Classes: The courses will run from 2nd March to 28th April 2020 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Graduation is scheduled for Friday 24th April; therefore return flights should be booked for some time between Saturday 25th and Wednesday 29th April 2020. 

Practical Research Project: A group research project will be undertaken during the last week of the programme and the date of this will be announced on acceptance. 

Financing and Scholarships

The ENGAGE Programme receives support from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). There are a limited number of scholarships for participants from Africa, Asia and South America. Not all who apply will be funded. All accepted participants are expected to pay R1000 fee when they confirm their participation. This fee should be paid by the union, but can also be paid by the individual participant. 

The scholarships covers the following: 

  • University short course programme costs
  • Accommodation
  • Tuition/fees at the University of the Witwatersrand

Day-to-day living expenses are the responsibility of the participants. The flights to and from students’ home countries have to be paid for by the participants or an organisation on their behalf. 

Estimated costs if the participant is NOT covered by the scholarship:

Accommodation 20757.00ZAR 1500USD*
Tuition Fees 7770.00ZAR 560USD*
Living Expenses 4000.00ZAR (per month) 290USD*

*Please note: These are estimated US dollar costs for the duration of the ENGAGE Programme. US Dollar amounts are subject to currency fluctuations.

Admission Requirements

  • you are a trade unionist (in full-time employment, a shopsteward and/or voluntary involvement) or are otherwise active in the labour movement;
  • you are committed to employing your new skills in labour-related issues;
  • you are motivated to pass your acquired knowledge on to others;
  • you have at least a School Leaving Certificate (in exceptional circumstances we can also recognise prior learning for those who do not have school leaving certificates); those with tertiary degrees are also encouraged to apply;
  • you have at least three years’ labour-related work experience;
  • you are responsible or will become responsible for labour-related policies in an organisation representing workers or dealing with labour issues; and
  • you have a good command of English, are able to express yourself in writing and willing to participate actively in courses (see below).

Language Requirements

A TOEFL (IBT) score of 60 points or higher or a score of 5.5 or higher in IELTS or higher; or you have been taught in English up to your School Leaving Certificate or your tertiary degree programme.

Application Process

To complete the application process please submit the following documents (in English):

  • ENGAGE Programme Application Form for 2020
  • Your CV/Resume
  • A Personal Motivational letter
  • A Letter of Recommendation by your Union/Organisation
  • Copies of your academic certificates


For enquiries, please contact Mr Warren McGregor:

Email: Warren.Mcgregor(at)wits.ac.za

Telephone: +27 11 717 4479
Facsimile: +27 11 717 4459

Closing Date: Monday, 14 October 2019

Incomplete applications will NOT be processed

Application Submission:

Please submit application documents via email to GLU.SouthAfrica(at)wits.ac.za

or via courier to:

Mr Warren McGregor
Global Labour University South Africa
Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand
Central Block Building, Room 203
Private Bag X3
Johannesburg, WITS 2050