Nomthandazo Radebe from Escourt in KwaZulu-Natal is helping young people gain much-needed work experience by giving them positions in her small sewing business and arranging internships at various companies.
Many young South Africans fresh out of school, college or university struggle to find jobs nowadays, as most employers require candidates to have some form of experience before hiring them.
“I hire those who are interested in sewing and train them to work with different fabrics and clothing design. I also hire young people who are interested in the business-side of things and get them involved with office and business administration.”
Thandeka Gumede completed a diploma in computer studies and business administration in 2009, but struggled to find a job in her field and ended up working part-time at a grocery store.
“I didn’t have the experience most companies needed from me before they could hire me. Working as a cashier was still not the right experience, but it helped give me an income now and again,” she said.
Radebe helped Gumede get a six-month internship as an office administrator at a local business. If she performs well during her six months, the company will consider hiring her on a full-time basis.
“I started working with Mam’Gumede in her sewing business. I did some bookkeeping for her and helped her with office work just to keep myself active in the work I had studied for while I searched for employment.
“I confided in her about my struggle with securing a job, and she started helping me with looking for internships and training programmes. I was thrilled when I got the internship, and am grateful to her for helping me secure it.”
Radebe said after helping Gumede find a job, she decided to invite other youngsters from the community to work for her so she could assist them in a similar way.
“I find that some of the kids have no access to a computer, they don’t have well-structured CVs and they aren’t properly prepared for job interviews. So while they are here with me, I help them put together great CVs and motivational letters, and give them tips for interviews.
“Here they have access to the internet, the phone and newspapers, which they may not be able to afford at home, and of course, they have some experience and a reference from me.”
Getting a kick-start
Mxolisi Chiliza completed high school in 2010 and has been looking for a job in the transport industry, but didn’t have a driver’s licence or the necessary driving experience.
“Mam’Gumede offered me a chance to come and work for her and earn some money and experience. I started off by accompanying her when she went to do her deliveries, or picking up materials and other supplies.
“She then helped me with funds to go to driving school and get my licence. Now I do all deliveries for her by myself. I’m learning so much about the business and am confident now that I’m working and earning a living.”
Chiliza said he wants to continue working for Gumede for a while and is not anxious about seeking employment elsewhere.
“Right now she doesn’t have another driver, so I’m in charge of deliveries and checking on supplies. I want to stay with her for a while to get solid experience and help her build her business, and maybe even train other young people like she does, before moving on to bigger things.”
Philip Sibanyoni started working for Gumede at the beginning of July this year and said he is keen to learn and grow from the opportunity. He completed his studies in project management in 2008.
“I’ve been hungry for employment for about three years now, but every company wants you to have some experience before they hire you. Mam’Gumede has helped me get on the right path towards my career.”
Gumede has hired him to help with various community projects.
“I’m so excited about my work. I’m full of ideas and eager to learn all there is to know. I felt like my knowledge was expiring sitting at home doing nothing. With my new job I will be on the ball, keeping up with the latest news and information. When I leave here I will have this work experience and am sure I will be hired.”
Gumede said she hopes to grow her business so she can provide more opportunities for other young people.
“For those who cannot do anything for me in my business, I help them secure work at schools as teaching assistants, or service support for companies. The bigger my company grows, the more people I can bring in to gain experience and prepare for the workplace.”