The City of Cape Town approached DreamWorker to establish a pilot employment facilitation office as part of the Saldanha IDZ revitalization programme. Atlantis has long been one of the “forgotten” areas for economic improvement and the project intends to make Atlantis inclusive to the new economic impact activity that all three tiers of government have programmes leveled at. The MyCiti bus system will create greater access to the City of Cape Town and should make its residents more mobile. The DreamWorker office is seen as an integral part of this upliftment.
The key strategy of the office is to develop a database of unemployed people in the region which includes Atlantis itself and the surrounding areas and villages. Part of the process is to establish the statistical data of the unemployed including the range and level of skills in the various industry sectors. It is estimated that the unemployment rate is around 50% which does not include those that have given up looking for work. The second and most important part of the strategy is to identify and establish links with all the work providers in the region and quantify the demand for labour.
Developing an employment facilitation office in an outer reach region comes with some unique challenges:
A) Atlantis has for some time been a relatively dormant economic activity area resulting in less and less work opportunities for work seekers
B) The unemployed have become disillusioned regarding opportunities and skeptical of “yet another scheme from government”.
c) There is a generation or more who have not experienced sustainable work and income and have therefore not been able to pass on a work ethic to the next generation.
D) Many of the youth have grown up into gangs, drugs and quick fixes and have “lost” some time in their career development paths.
E) Re-establishing trusting and professional relationships and links with the employer and work provider community will be a major challenge.
F) All meddling self appointed role players in the region who want to “own” part of the project.
To meet these challenges DreamWorker will need to build an office that:
1. Is robust, honest, fair in its dealings while building credibility with all constituents and partners.
2. Embraces all the self appointed role players in the region but does not allow any to dictate how DreamWorker operates.
3. Uses the community groups to market to the work seekers.
4. Markets extensively with the help of the City to all the work providers to the broader catchment area.
5. Conducts worker readiness and life enhancement programmes for all work seekers.
7. Tracks all the work placement data including type of work opportunity, with which employer and duration of contract.
Learning to date
The learning can be summarized thus far:
A) Greater education at school level needed to prepare for the world of work.
B) Literacy and numeracy levels as required by the work provider needs huge improvement.
C) The work seekers understanding of work commitments and contracts will need continual mentoring.
D) As at other offices there will be fewer formal jobs and that work opportunities (part-time and casual) are the only way for work seekers to access the work space initially.