Bold plan to create jobs for Bay youth

Hundreds of Eastern Cape unemployed graduates marched to the premier’s office to demand jobs last month Picture: Sibongile Ngalwa / Daily Dispatch
Hundreds of Eastern Cape unemployed graduates marched to the premier’s office to demand jobs last month
Picture: Sibongile Ngalwa / Daily Dispatch

Nearly 30 000 could find work if deal with non-profit group gets green light

City leaders, with the exception of deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani, have given their full backing to a deal which could create close to 30 000 job opportunities for the youth in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The city hopes to partner with national non-profit organisation Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, but a decision hinges on the support of the majority in council.

The only man standing in the way is Bobani, whose main gripe is that the municipality wants to link itself to Harambee and pour R10-million into the initiative without putting it out to tender.

To pass the plan, the coalition government would need Bobani’s support should it not get the backing of other political parties in the council.

“We must not play with a sensitive matter of employment and make that thing sacrifice our compliance with regard to the legislation, otherwise we will be attacked,” Bobani told yesterday’s mayoral committee meeting.

“I want to say that before we even approve it – R10-million is not a cent, it’s a lot of money to give to these people without ensuring we put it on tender.

“We can’t give R10-million willy-nilly, because tomorrow there might be [another company] that comes and says I can employ a hundred thousand people.”

Bobani’s coalition partners assured him it was not a tender but an opportunity to partner with an NPO to help unlock job opportunities to tackle the city’s growing youth unemployment crisis.

Mayor Athol Trollip said: “We are not procuring goods and services here. It is not a tender or a bid.

“We are actually going out to find a partner that will help us create jobs in the city.

“Therefore, we will be going into a partnership with Harambee.

“They’re bringing in more money than we are. Their targets on job creation are quite astounding.”

The metro has similar partnerships with other stakeholders which it funds.

After the meeting, Bobani maintained he could not support it without it going through the proper tender processes.

Meanwhile, his colleagues have lauded the initiative as the key to making the youth more employable.

They hope it will eventually put a dent in the Bay’s staggering 47.3% youth unemployment figure as South Africa’s economy looks increasingly gloomy.

If it is approved, the metro will pump R10-million into the partnership over this financial year and the next two, while Harambee will also put money into it – although it is unclear how much.

The private sector would also be roped in to help finance the metro’s Jobs Desk initiative, which Trollip announced when he first stepped into office.

Harambee, which has placed more than 30 000 young people into sustained jobs since 2011, focuses on making young people employable and ready for the working environment.

Those loaded onto their database go through various assessments and training programmes before jobs, largely in the private sector, are sought for them.

The metro’s political head of economic development, tourism and agriculture, councillor Andrew Whitfield, said Harambee had partnered with the City of Johannesburg and Cape Town and had an excellent track record of finding jobs for the youth.

“We have one in two young people unemployed in this municipality,” he said.

“This intervention seeks to address that.

“We have young people in this metro who are capable of being employed but cannot find employment due to their circumstances, where they live and their access to opportunities. “This initiative will identify young unemployed people and match them with available work opportunities – both in the private and public sector. But particularly in the private sector.

“What they do is ensure young people are provided with work readiness skills, which we found are one of the greatest barriers to young people being employed – they are not prepared appropriately for the life of work.

“This programme ensures work readiness is a priority to ensure they are prepared for the life of work,” Whitfield said.

After the meeting, he said the target was to create 29 600 job opportunities over the next three years.

The plan is to place 150 youths in jobs before July and provide a further 2 000 jobs between July and June next year.

Trollip said job creation was the single greatest challenge for his administration.

“This is an initiation of a jobs desk and providing a facility that opens a pipeline for employment of our young people in this city,” he said. “We have many unemployed graduates. “Many leave to find greener pastures elsewhere and others are sitting at home.

“We need to keep those people in the city and we need to give them hope and opportunities – and those sitting at home, we need to give them a job.”

Harambee Eastern Cape head Masa Mlamla said: “Harambee will assist in reaching more than 20 000 young people and providing opportunities ranging from formal jobs to learning.

“It will also partner with the municipality to catalyse new job growth that can provide opportunities for young people.

“Our journey has demonstrated that for many young people work is the ticket to further study – with sustained income, young people can progress and even fund their own further education.

“Importantly, young people need line of sight of others getting work and progressing to incentivise completion of matric and further education,” he said.

While the mooted partnership has been welcomed, Zolisa Marawu from NMMU’s Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training, raised concerns about graduates placed in internships for years on end.

“We [must talk] about how to improve the economy to help those who need it the most – the unemployed,” he said.

Young Amy George, of Helenvale, said she hoped the partnership would become a reality.

She said she had been through several workshops and believed every schoolleaver or graduate should possess the skills to help make them more employable. – Additional reporting by Devon Koen

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