Training courses boost employment

Students listen to volunteer Leilani Gertse.
Unemployment has always been a major issue in South Africa, prompting the foundation of many organisations dedicated to alleviating the issue, including two in the northern suburbs that has enjoyed relative success. 

Unemployment is rife in Fisantekraal, but non-profit organisations are running training courses there to help residents stand out in a tough job market.

The Fisantekraal Centre of Development (FCD) is a non-profit organisation, which currently offers courses in job readiness and office basics to members of the public through a head office in Durbanville and satellite offices in Fisantekraal and Klipheuwel. 

The centre, which was started in 2008, traces its roots back to 2000, when volunteers from churches in Durbanville joined the Learn to Earn Association to run courses on Standler Farm, near Fisantekraal. 

Those wishing to partake in the courses pay fees of between R200 to R400 for the three to 10-week courses. 

Apart from job readiness and office basics there is also training in frail care, business skills and baking for profit.

According to volunteer, Chantelle Engelbrecht, the centre’s courses had a positive impact on 255 families last year. 
Ms Engelbrecht said: “Last year, the FCD positively impacted 255 families through our courses and there have been many success stories over the years. We are currently busy implementing new courses such as hospitality and through our courses we also offer mentorship, counselling and discipleship.” 
Wellington resident Ms Gertse volunteered at the FCD in 2015 and after studying to become a teacher she came back to the group in order to teach students in Fisantekraal. 

“Our goal is to eradicate unemployment in not only the province but also the entire country. We teach students key subjects such as life skills, customer skills and interview-prep skills, and after three weeks, the students do job shadowing, which results in many of them getting permanent jobs,” she said.

The FCD works with big chain stores to place trainees. 

“The FCD partners with a lot of business such as Truworths, Mica and Pick n Pay. We often link suitable candidates with positions or we simply link them with companies that are close to where they stay to suit their transport needs,” Ms Gertse said.

Ms Gertse added that when students attend job shadowing at the various companies the FCD brings in new students. 

For those who attend job shadowing the FCD checks up after six months and even provide support for the unfortunate few that does not find employment after their three week trial.

Zodwa Thame, 30, started a course at the beginning of February.
The mother of two said: “Before joining these classes, I worked as a cleaner in houses and in factories, but I want to better myself for my future and for my children. My goal is get the skills to get a permanent job, and, after a year or two, I want to study to become a creche teacher.” 

Anitha Mhlambisa, 21, said the classes had helped her get to know herself better.
Ms Mhlambisa said: “I am dedicated to changing my situation at home and make people understand that living in the past is not good for you. I want to work for a few years and save up enough money to study family law so that I can help others not live the same life I struggled with in the past. The future is important and that is something that I want to teach everybody not only in my community but all over.” 

While the FCD enjoys their success, just down the road from their head office in Wellington Road, in Durbanville,  another non-profit, known as Work 4 A Living, is also helping to fight unemployment in Fisantekraal. As owners of a recruitment agency, Anton Hitchcock and his wife, Engeline, own a recruitment agency Persona Staff in Durbanville, but the couple believed that they can do more for the community. 

Mr Hitchcock said: “Through working in the industry myself and my wife noticed the many mistakes people made in job interviews. Like, for example, when people are asked where do they see themselves in five years then they say they want to be CEOs or have better jobs, which is not something an employer wants to hear, especially if they looking to hire somebody long term.”
He and his wife then heard about Work 4 A Living, which was started by his friend Ena Richards in Port Elizabeth.

They did a three-week course there in 2017 to become administrators and then opened a Durbanville office for the non-profit.

 After hearing about this we flew down to PE in 2017 to attend the three week course to become administrators and when we returned we opened the Durbanville office. 

Students are charged a R100 fee for the 10-day job readiness programme, which Mr Hitchcock refers to as a “commitment fee”. 

He said: “Our classes run for two weeks, which results to 10 days of classes. He said: “The R100 is simply there to ensure that they come to classes everyday, we have had a few cases where students come to us and say they cannot make the classes anymore and then we give the R100 back.” 

Mr Hitchcock uses the job listings he has access to through his recruitment agency to place trainees. 

Candidates who complete the job- readiness programme have a choice of furthering their education through a choice of  can go on to do PC, admin, merchandising and waitering courses, ranging in price from R200 to R500. 

“Through our interactive courses, we identify the strengths and weaknesses of all the students, and, in some cases if they are very young and should be in school, then we send them to school so that they can be better prepared,” Mr Hitchcock said.

Lerato George, 23, of Kraaifontein, who after attending the very first class, now works as a receptionist after doing Work 4 A Living’s first classes in Durbanville.

“Before attending these classes, I studied business at the Akhala College in Aliwal North, but I have learnt so much more from the 10 classes here than I did during my business course. I feel that I have so much more here (at Work 4 a Living) because We learn that hard work goes a long way and that we should not walk around with a sense of entitlement, in terms of we should not expect jobs but should rather put ourselves out there and earn one,” she said.