Sixty young township learners will have a brighter future because of an innovative new programme designed to empower individuals, create jobs and benefit businesses both big and small.
The first 60 candidates in the groundbreaking joint venture between the co-working community of Workshop17 and township community development Township Fleva, founded by NGO Rhiza Babuyile, will begin their skills training and learnerships in business administration and IT support this month.
For the venture’s corporate partners, the initiative provides a rapidly scalable and holistic approach to skills development which directly benefits both their human capital and procurement needs.
Learners in the inaugural intake will, in the main, go on to work for Investec and Multichoice.
Together, Township Fleva and Workshop17 have set out to create quality skills development that is relevant, funky, interesting, aspirational, and a sustainable foundation for a local skills, employment and innovation ecosystem.
Going beyond skills development, the initiative breaks down the many barriers to economic participation that township youth face. It gives them the knowledge and experience necessary to kickstart their career as an employee or entrepreneur and links them with financial support. It also forms a bridge between townships and business, opening doors to connect township learners with opportunities and for businesses to tap into township networks, markets and talent pools.
The year-long skills development programme is delivered by Township Fleva, which already provides between 500 and 600 learnerships a year and has an impressive 80% placement track record. The programme allocates equal time to hands-on learnerships with its partners and skills development training, which takes place at Workshop17 in Maboneng.
As the original Workshop17 space, its Maboneng centre opened in Joburg in 2012 and remains at the cutting edge of creating thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems. This game-changing business hub has now also become a laboratory for creating more inclusive spaces for skills development. Located in the vibrant and diverse Maboneng precinct, this iconic co-working space is wonderfully accessible for people from diverse backgrounds – from townships to the suburbs and everything between.
Paul Keursten, CEO and Co-Founder of Workshop17, says, “By delivering the programme at Workshop17 Maboneng, the learners are integrated into a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and small businesses. With locations in Sandton, Rosebank and the V&A Waterfront and with a fast growing community that is already over 1,000 members, it gives the learners access to opportunities that are otherwise hard to tap into. They get to network and be part of the energy, innovation, linkage programmes and talent pool of Workshop17.”
What is more, the social entrepreneurship collaboration is a case study to develop a model that can be replicated in other areas across Workshop17’s growing footprint in South Africa.
The project is already integrated with an establish feeder skills development programme. The 60 ambitious 2019 learnership candidates have been selected from existing township business hubs in which Rhiza Babuyile is involved in Diepsloot, Braamfontein and Orange Farm.
Township Fleva’s value-based selection uses proven criteria. It does background research including criminal record and blacklisting checks. Then candidates go through two interviews to create a profile based on five criteria: commitment, motivation, interests, talents and values. The results are used to align learners with clients as well as the work the individuals will be doing.
Rhiza Babuyile Chairman, Alef Meulenberg, says, “Our project is distinguished by its focus on each person who is part of the programme. Most of our facilitators are former learners and because they have similar reference points, they can really relate to and inspire the youngsters on their journeys. Our social development mindset and collaborative approach drive our high outputs.”
The programme’s focused approach is built on the core values of equality, respect and reciprocity. Collaborative thinking, rather than competitive thinking, is key to the project.
“By collaborating we have a multiplier effect on skills development, job creation and township entrepreneurship. Working together for a shared vision reduces risk and produces results beyond the sum of participants’ resources. We want to inspire and stimulate the growth of knowledge and skills, and invite everyone who shares our vision to join us on this journey,” say the partners.
Workshop 17 (formerly Open Workspaces) creates and manages spaces in which startups, freelancers and companies — big and small, profit and non-profit, new and experienced — can work, meet, collaborate and innovate. It has five iconic workspaces across South Africa hosting over 1,000 members and 500 companies, with more locations planned. Workshop17 coworking spaces are unique in that they offer more than simply a place to work; they actively foster a thriving community and make a positive contribution to this community, South Africa and beyond. Workshop17 is 50% owned by Growthpoint Properties, the leading South African international REIT.
Rhiza Babuyile develops township communities to be self-sustaining and economically independent through healthcare, skills development, enterprise development and education programmes. Its main aim is to eradicate extreme poverty, close the inequality gap, and develop historically disadvantaged people. To achieve this within five to ten years in each community it operates, it commercialises social development to make it self-sustaining. Among its signature projects are the JOZi Business Hub in Diepsloot, Fashion & Design skills development in Orange Farm and its Township Fleva joint venture.