by Errol Freeman

Minimum requirements

Bulk of unemployed cannot even pass simple screening test

Most of those who are desperate for work cannot pass the screening test
There are many jobs to be had, but there are a couple of barriers to entry

How do retail companies in South Africa employ high-calibre people when potential staff don’t want to work, think that the job does not suit them or is too low-class and demeaning in their eyes? The solution lies right at the beginning of the employment process and is refining the process over and over.

While it is said that many South Africans are desperate for work, the reality of the matter is that the bulk of people who are desperate for employment cannot pass a simple screening test.

The absolute minimum that many companies require for employment is a Matric certificate; this includes positions for security guards and cashiers. Last year’s statistics have indicated that the Matric pass rate (in Gauteng) is on the rise. In the real world, many of these candidates cannot answer the simple maths equations required at basic screening tests.

It seems that people of a ‘higher calibre’ who can easily pass the screening tests tend to think there are too many employment opportunities that are below their station in life. The concept of getting your foot in the front door and seizing opportunities has been forgotten. A large proportion of people who do not have employment fail to understand that many large companies and corporations look internally first and promote from within.

There are many jobs to be had, but there are a couple of barriers to entry. One, as already mentioned, is the minimum qualification of Matric, and the other is the passing of the most basic of screening tests – an easy proposition for some people, a seemingly insurmountable one to others.

Finally, job seekers with Matric but no university degree often feel that entry-level jobs that do not require particular skill are beneath their station.

Let’s break it down into numbers. An internationally well-known fast food company is looking for multiple people to work in various positions at its Gauteng outlets.

Between 3 000 and 5 000 SMSes are received in response to a small recruitment advert placed in the local newspaper. About 10% to 15%, or 300 people, respond to a screening invite and actually arrive to be screened. From this, 15% to 30% pass the screening tests – leaving a total of 45 hopefuls to be sent to the fast food chain to begin the interview process.

About 30% of these hopefuls then decide they cannot make it to the interview for whatever reason, leaving the company with 31 interviewees to interview. A further 20% neglect to take the necessary documentation (e.g. Matric certification) and six more people are immediately disqualified from the process.

Of these, some do not make it past the interview stage, but let’s assume that 25 get hired. At least 50% of hired people do not make it past the first two weeks. About 0.4% of the original 3 000 interested parties actually become gainfully employed and get a foot into company that will promote from within.

If 100 people (with Matric) apply for a specific job, how does one know which 10 people are most suitable to employ? The answer is reliable screening. It becomes much easier for companies to select the right people if the correct calibre of people are sent for interviews in the first place.

Thereafter the process must be reviewed. If there are any specifics that companies find need to be addressed, the screening process can be reviewed and modified to suit specific company requirements, or alternatively an industrial psychologist could design specific tests for them.

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