Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

Dreamworker Employment

Using the "Strategic Conversation Matrix" for strategic planning in our organisation

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 27 August, 2014 - 16:00


Project context

Dreamworker is an organisation that registers, empowers, inspires, and “work-readies” unemployed people by creating a best practice profile of each individual and then linking them to appropriate work opportunities. The type of work they are matched with includes fulltime, part-time or contract work and we track and document these opportunities on an electronic database. Although we have a massive database system, our focus remains the human job seeker.

Our philosophy is to create a process of quality human engagement supported by quality information that we feed into the employer market. We do this by matching appropriate, unemployed people (job demand) with work opportunities (job supply) and satisfying both parties.

Background to the Dreamworker office in Atlantis

Our first office was located in Cape Town and we opened a second office in Atlantis. The process of opening the second office was discussed in a previous learning brief. In Atlantis we wanted to improve our services to the worker-seekers and the employees. Atlantis is an isolated rural area, where only 41% of our job candidates have a matric certificate. They have work experience in the industrial sector, in office administration, and retail. Most of the unemployed who register with our office are youth under the age of 35 years. We seek to help these specific, rural-based unemployed people find jobs.

Describing the “Strategic Conversation Matrix”

To help our organisation take appropriate actions to match job seekers with employees we use a Strategic Conversation Matrix. This matrix walks us through a 4-step process as follows:

Step 1. Identify what is certain to this environment but you can’t control – These are the rules of the game.

Step 2. Identify what is uncertain and you can’t control – These are uncertain scenarios.

Step 3. Identify what can you control but is uncertain – These are your options and possibilities.

Step 4. Identify what can you control and what is certain – These can lead to potential decisions and actions.

Below we offer some examples of how to populate the Strategic Conversation Matrix on the Work Demand / Unemployed side:

Step 1. Certain But Can’t Control:

  • The cycle of social dysfunction, drug abuse, and low moral has negatively impacted the employability of the rural work seekers
  • Individuals in the small impoverished community lack hope
  • More than their urban counterparts, rural work seekers enter the market poorly educated, lacking business level literacy, and lacking numeracy skills.
  • Rural work seekers enter the market under-qualified and inexperienced, with no generational role modelling to guide them
  • Rural work seekers lack business-level work readiness and life skills
  • Work seekers have low morale, self-esteem and are often influenced by small powerful controlling social groups
  • There is a potential generation of work seekers who have long given up looking for work, denying the economy of their experience

Step 2. Uncertain and Can’t Control:

  • In this area there are limited work opportunities within a reasonable travelling distance from beneficiaries homes
  • Most of the work opportunities come from outside this geographical location. Cost of travel will reduce take home pay, and thus reduce the capacity to move out of poverty
  • Employees from this area are more vulnerable to abusive and or exploitative labour practices by employers
  • Recent changes in labour laws have the potential to effect work employment supply
  • CCMA cases generally favour the employee thereby putting the employer at risk and potentially reducing the desire to re-employ
  • Migration of the more educated and experienced work seekers from this area to urban areas diminishes the local pool of skilled individuals

Step 3. Can Control but Uncertain:

  • We can control the work readiness and preparation of the work seeker but not their performance
  • We can control the matching process but not the outcome
  • We can advise employers on minimum pay rates for entry-level jobs
  • We can influence the employer to trial borderline candidates
  • We can direct those who fail to gain jobs into self-employment or other opportunities
  • We can lobby for better labour policies that encourage work/job creation
  • We can work with educational institutions to improve beneficiary literacy and numeracy levels

Step 4. Can Control and Certain

  • We can prepare, educate and mentor candidates for interview process
  • We can help job candidates get the necessary work readiness and life skill for the work place
  • We can match correct candidates to correct work opportunities
  • We can control the facilitation process between employees and employers
  • We can track, support, and mentor candidates to enhance career progress
  • We can advise and guide employers as to the professional facilitation process
  • We can work with community groups to influence quantity and quality of beneficiary registrations


We use this matrix to frame our organizations strategic actions, and to focus our efforts to the most effective and efficient ends. We endeavour to match the Work Demand with the Work Supply matrix to identify the common areas, gaps, uncertainties and opportunities and be in a better position to take appropriate action. This technique has been particularly useful in setting up the rural Atlantis office and we hope that we can use this again for other future rural Dreamworker offices.



  Cnr Aden Street & Tembe Street  Athlone  Cape Town  7764

 +27 21 6964048


In Short

In this learning brief Dreamworker explains how to use a Strategic Conversation Matrix to help identify ways to match unemployed people with the job market. This technique helps organisation's to plan stratigecally and focus their efforts in an efficent way.

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