UCT Careers Service celebrates Fuad Abrahams's 35 years of Service
When Fuad Abrahams stood in for an injured colleague, little did he know that it would lead to a permanent post at UCT Careers Service (CS). Now, over three decades later, Fuad is still part of the service that dedicates itself to providing careers information, advice and opportunities to UCT students and graduates. The University of Cape Town recently celebrated Fuad’s dedication and loyalty to his work by awarding him a 35-year long-service award.
Fuad worked as an assistant spray painter for two years after leaving school. "I then joined UCT in 1981 thinking I’d be doing the same job, only to find out that I was not," he says.
Fuad worked as a cleaner for a year, then he moved to the CS as a departmental assistant and it has been his home ever since. In 2009 he was promoted to departmental administrator, assuming responsibility for logistical support to the graduate recruitment portfolio.
At present, Fuad is part of the operational team that sees to all operations, support and logistics for the multiple events and services offered by the CS. For the past four years he has also been doing photography for the unit.
Fuad has seen many changes under the direction of four CS directors spanning the period of his tenure. When he first arrived at the unit it consisted of only a head, who was also a careers advisor, two other careers advisors and a secretary. It was a far cry from what it is looks like and offers students and employers today. At the time, the unit's director also reported to a deputy vice-chancellor. It has undergone a number of name changes and at some point there were talks about the unit closing its doors. However, the director at the time, Mervyn Wetmore, successfully motivated to keep the CS open. The unit was relocated to CHED after the Centre was established in 1999.
"That (CHED’s formation) was a big change for us. We weren’t sure if we were going to have a job or how we’re going to work," he says.
Fuad said that there have been many innovations in the services offered over the years. In the past, for example, students had to come to the office, fill in their details in a log-book, hand it in and wait for an appointment. In contrast, these days, students can log their appointments online via MyCareer, the CS online portal. Furthermore, he said that in days gone by, all student information was collated manually through photocopying whereas resources can now be found at the CS office and on the website. There are a lot more employers on campus these days and technology has enhanced the way they recruit UCT students and graduates.
About his work, Fuad had this to say: "It was more task-orientated" in the past, whereas now he understands how his role fits into the operation, which, he says is a good thing.
With the many changes Fuad has witnessed and weathered at UCT over his many years here, he says that what keeps him going is "the environment, learning new things every day from students and staff and the lifelong friends I’ve made." He attests to acquiring a wealth of knowledge and many fond memories in his 35-year wake at the university.
"The changes to the institution and the country that I have experienced through the years have been phenomenal … When I joined UCT there was no formal trade union for workers and us black people felt very excluded and vulnerable."
"A few years later a university and allied workers union was formed, which gave us a voice. The formation of the union was to me the beginning of transformation in my world. The peak of my excitement came with the formation of the RMF and FMF movements. We have come full circle and the transformation that we spoke about many years ago is now being brought to life by workers and students and [can] not be ignored any more. Not only did this movement see the insourcing agreement signed, but also to me this meant a reunion, and some sort of justice has been achieved. Having witnessed this during my lifetime at UCT is indeed the cherry on top for me.’
Story by: Chido Mbambe and Natalie Kammies
Photo by: Je’nine May