Global Labour University

South Africa

Certificate Course ENGAGE

ENGAGE South Africa is an intensive six-module certificate short course offered annually to trade unionists and labour activists from around the world with a focus on those from the Global South. It is a popular two-month programme, with participants housed at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

Engage has been offered by GLU Wits since 2013 and is supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub-Saharan Africa (FES-TUCC) and the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK).


About the course:

The Engage course, certified by Wits University, assists participants in acquiring additional knowledge and tools enabling them to take an active part in public debate and policy formulation and implementation. Our programme discusses and analyses the cause of the decades-long decline in the working-class wage share, increasing wealth disparity and the informalisation of labour within the context of neoliberal globalisation. Through interactive collaboration in seminars taught by senior academics and veteran labour scholars, ENGAGE participants and course coordinators jointly assess and develop strategies to enforce decent work conditions along cross-border chains of production and to regulate financial markets. The module seminars cover the following themes: Global Governance, Global Wage Policy and Finance, Labour and Development, Society and Development and Organising in the Shadow of a Pandemic. The sixth module tasks participants to develop a research project using Mapping and the Power Resources Approach (Power Mapping).

The Engage Transfer Project aims at ensuring a transfer of learnt research and analysis skills from our Engage South Africa short course alumni to their worker organisations in their country of origin. This is done by coordinating Power Resource Mapping research workshops and projects with selected African trade unions that were represented by alumni of the course. These country-based workshops, held in selected African destinations, are developed and presented by the Engage South Africa Coordinator, who also works as the Transfer Coordinator. The results of this research are presented at the annual Engage Transfer Colloquium, held at the University.

The topics covered in the course 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, South 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:

Classes run from 09h30-17h00 each day as set by the Module Coordinators. Group-work projects may also be set by Module Coordinators outside class time.

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

Practical Research Project: A group research project will be undertaken during the last two weeks of the programme. 


Admission requirements:

  • you are a trade unionist (in full-time employment, a shop steward 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 a school-leaving certificates); those with tertiary degrees are also encouraged to apply;
  • you have at least three years’ labour-related work experience;
  • ou 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, can express yourself in writing and are willing to participate actively in courses: A TOEFL (IBT) score of 60 points or higher or a score of 5.5 or higher in IELTS; or you have been taught in English up to your School Leaving Certificate or your tertiary degree programme.


Application procedures:

The application period runs from August to October each year.

We have moved to an ONLINE application process. We NO LONGER accept emailed or hardcopy mailed application packages. Please complete the ONLINE APPLICATION FORM which registers your application online.

To complete the application process, please upload the following documents (in English) to the portal (see below):

  • Your Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume
  • Your Motivational letter
  • An Official Letter of Recommendation by your Union/Organisation endorsing your application
  • Copies of your academic certificates

PLEASE NOTE we will not review incomplete applications. 

Financing & Scholarships

The ENGAGE course receives support from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK). There are a limited number of scholarships for participants from Africa, Asia and South America. Not all who apply will be funded. 

The scholarships cover the following:

  • University short course administrative 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, which are subject to change, if the participant is NOT covered by the scholarship:

  • Accommodation: 28,000.00ZAR (for two months); equivalent to 2020 USD*
  • Tuition Fees: 8,500.00ZAR: equivalent to 615USD*
  • Living Expenses: 5000.00ZAR (per month); equivalent to 360USD*

*Please note: These are estimated US dollar costs for the duration of the ENGAGE course as of June 2021. Dollar amounts are subject to currency fluctuations.

Contact us

For more information please contact:

» Warren McGregor

To know more about study experiences, please do no hesitate to contact our alumni:

» Odelia Dogbe

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