Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

Dreamworker Employment

We believe in people: What we have learned while helping South Africans find work

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 11 December, 2012 - 16:51


Unemployment is arguably one of the most important social challenges facing South Africa. This “crisis” has been thrust into the forefront of our minds from the President’s State of the Nation addresses, the National Planning Commission’s findings to prominent initiatives like the Jobs Fund project. Solving this problem is however seemingly complicated with as many different solutions as there are questions. As a result DreamWorker was tasked by the W Cape Provincial government in 2008 to setup an employment facilitation operation to act as a channel in helping unemployed people at the lower end of the economic spectrum find work.

Our ambition

As an organization we looked at the holistic need and based our strategy around the concept of “work” and not just “job”, as studies showed that in the past few years of worldwide economic activity the majority of employment opportunities were through part-time work not full-time jobs. Further to this we wanted to move away from the bland and mass registration of the unemployed and to connect on a human level with each unemployed person that walked through our doors. We wanted to back up this human interaction with a sophisticated database that tracked all registration and work placement movement.

Broad challenges

There were challenges to facilitating work opportunities from both the work seeker and work provider perspective.

For the work seeker there were the challenges of cost of transport, lack of or poor education, lack of work experience, lack of hope, poor work readiness and limited access to modern communication systems.

From the work provider perspective the challenges they communicated were risking new recruits, lack of work opportunities and fear of some aspects of the labour laws, particularly the CCMA.


To meet these challenges we built our strategy around a quality and transparent information channel between the work seeker and work provider. To achieve this our process consisted of the following legs:

  1. Thorough pre-registration and preparation engagement with each beneficiary
  2. Formal interview in which all the work seeker’s work and personal information is gleaned
  3. A verification of all data before captured onto the electronic database
  4. Development of a one page personal profile per beneficiary
  5. Conducting worker readiness programmes for all work seekers
  6. Personalised preparation for specific work interviews
  7. Tracking of all the work placement data including type of work opportunity, with which employer and duration of contract.

Taking up the DGMT’s challenge

In the DGMT’s annual report David Harrison issued a challenge to create “catalytic potential” through the impact of our projects. With this in mind we looked at how we can enhance the work facilitation process from the current engagement, preparation, search and placement process. We have challenged ourselves to see if we can start to shift the consciousness of all the work seekers who walk though our doors from the concept of poverty into prosperity. We have developed a model called The DreamDiamond which forms part of our worker readiness programme. Through this model we challenge the participants to define their life purpose, create their dream life, find inspirational avenues and identify their true contribution. Our aim through is to make them more self-reliant and see themselves as contributors to society rather than employees.

Learning to date

The learning across many levels can be summarized thus far:

  1. More education is needed at school level with regard to preparation for the world of work
  2. The work seekers command of English, spoken and written, needs huge improvement
  3. The work seekers understanding of work commitments and contracts needs continual mentoring
  4. The contactability of work seekers, even in the age of the cell phone, is problematic
  5. There are too few formal jobs and that work opportunities (part-time and casual) are the only way for work seekers to access the work space initially.

Project impact

Although we have chosen a highly labour intensive and effort driven model we believe the human connection is of paramount importance in developing credibility with both the work seeker and work provider.

Since the inception of the programme we have engaged, inspired, empowered and work readied over 6500 work seekers. We have facilitated over 260 000 days of work which translates into over R35 million of wages for the unemployed. We believe this is only the beginning.

  Cnr Aden Street & Tembe Street  Athlone  Cape Town  7764

 +27 21 6964048


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