by Mark Campbell

Alleviating unemployment

Smart learnership selection will combat unemployment

Smart learnership selection will combat unemployment
Correct learners in correct learnerships

According to the Q1 2013 Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa, the number of unemployed citizens has increased by 100 000 – taking the total to 4.6 million and the unemployment rate up to 25.2%.

These numbers only reflect the unemployed who are actively looking for employment, and do not include individuals who want to work but for whatever reasons have not taken active steps in searching for employment. Therefore it only takes a small logical leap that the rate of unemployment in South Africa is in real terms dramatically higher than the official 25.2%. 

The government, wisely, is well aware of the situation and is allocating tremendous resources to try and alleviate this problem. One project that got little notice in the flood of publicity surrounding the youth unemployment fund, is the massive learnership programme that is ongoing through the Construction Sector Education and Training Authority programme.

“The resources available for this programme are in the billions,” says Errol Freeman, managing director of Lulaway. “A single learner in the programme will cost approximately R36 500 per year. To ensure the taxpayers' money is efficiently spent and that the learner becomes economically active, it is imperative that the correct learners are selected for the programme.”

The price tag per learner of R36 500 can be broken down into three distinct costs. Government will pay a R1 500 stipend per month for a year, a recruitment fee of R1 500 and R17 000 actual training costs over the year.

How do we ensure these resources go to the right young people who will be able to take advantage of the opportunities? How do we ensure these resources are not reused for the same group of connected individuals who would be employed anyway?

Companies that choose to specialise in screening candidates by using a job centre model within the local communities and utilising technology to automatically score and filter candidates, are the start of a solution.

Lulaway is already entrenched in screening entry-level and semi-skilled people who are actively looking for work. The company has close on 40 000 people registered on its system, and is active in six provinces with 42 branches up and running. Among these branches are 20 government-funded and -backed social development centres.

Ensuring the correct learners are put into correct learnership positions will, in the long term, benefit the country by becoming more economically active and enabling more citizens to contribute their share of taxes. The rate of unemployment will drop as more skilled people are able to offer their services to an ever growing population. Entrepreneurship is encouraged, as the skills provided will permit people to work for themselves within the small, medium and micro enterprise sector and, in turn, create employment for others.

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