Inequality and Economic Inclusion

Wednesday, 01 October 2008

Employment intermediation for unskilled and low-skilled work seekers – Part 11: Case studies - NB Ideas with Strategies for Change and Indego Consulting

  • Year: 2008
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Author(s): NB Ideas with Strategies for Change and Indego Consulting
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

This document is part two of a three part report on employment intermediation. Part one provides an overview of the sector, internationally and nationally, and part three captures the recommendations for further work towards strengthening the sector. In this second part of that report, seven case studies of existing employment intermediation services in South Africa are presented.

The case studies attempt to provide an overview of the types of employment services available to unskilled and semi-skilled unemployed people, as provided by the state, the private sector and non-governmental services. The case studies are not a comprehensive overview of the services. Instead, they try to provide insight into the operations of the selected agencies, all of whom target specifically the most vulnerable work seekers, in other words, those who are the long term unemployed, the unskilled and the semi-skilled. Each case study is brief and based on either a two- or four-day engagement.

The first three case studies focus on the public sector. Case study one provides an overview of the public employment service; case study two, a public works programme initiative focuses on the job creation role of the state. Case study three turns its attention to a partnership at local government level aimed at reducing unemployment and improving employment intermediation services. Case studies four and five focus on private sector initiatives that target unskilled and semi-skilled work seekers, namely TEBA Limited (Ltd), an employment intermediation servicing the mines; and labour brokers, a growing industry in South Africa that services the mines, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and retails sectors. The final two case studies focus on non-governmental organisational (NGO) initiatives, both set up in the last few years, where a core focus is employment intermediation. The first of these, Men on the Side of the Road, focuses on a target constituency, namely men waiting on the side of the road, while the other, Work Now, focuses on a geographic area.

What becomes clear from the case studies is that employment intermediation is a burgeoning industry with lots of opportunities and challenges. Where data exist, the benefits of a personalised face-to-face service seem indisputable, both from the perspective of the work seeker and of the employer. These benefits have not been exploited fully. Funding resources are a key challenge for the sector. The sector is uncoordinated and characterised by limited interaction between role players. There is also much overlap between the plans of providers.

Within the unskilled band of work seekers, there are particular sectors where training is relatively short term and demand high, as is the case, for example, among call centre operators. Here, there are numerous private and even some NGO providers that offer success stories linking unemployed people to work opportunities. We have chosen not to focus on this industry given the success of the market in meeting demand.

There are also a range of NGOs that are essentially training organisations that, over time, have incorporated a placement service as part of the aftercare service provided to trainees. Again, these have not been included in the selected case studies as they generally only service trainees and cannot be regarded as an employment intermediation service open to the public or a targeted group within the public.

In conclusion, it is hoped that the selected case studies will provide some insight into the employment intermediation sector and the services available to largely unskilled work seekers.