SOCIAL entrepreneur Ronald Bownes, director of DreamWorker, has dedicated his time and effort to helping unemployed people in the lower economic sector of society find work and get them into the economic stream.
The unemployment rate in South Africa is in crisis and should be declared a state of emergency.
We need to shift our perception of unemployment and the solutions thereof. We are not going to solve the unemployment issue in South Africa by creating jobs.
Rather, we need to focus on creating work opportunities for the unemployed in part-time, casual and project work to absorb the dormant labour.
We need to get people working, today. We need to place them into work opportunities.
Government is not going to be able to create enough jobs through large-scale infrastructure projects, let alone lasting jobs.
Nor is the South African business profit model geared towards solving the problem. The business sector is not able to absorb the mass of unemployed people at a rate that will have any impact in relation to the growing numbers.
The continual emphasis on SMEs and entrepreneurship as the golden answers to solving unemployment (is misplaced as they) are going to make only a minor dent to the unemployment figures.
South Africa’s profit model requires a greater emphasis on maximising profits for shareholders rather than developing human capital, resulting in less job creation.
In addition to this, the education system is churning out a poor quality of student where the focus is on memory and little on creativity, innovation and critical thinking, which in turn makes them less marketable to the business world.
This places an additional training cost burden on the economic sector.
Along with the focus on creating work opportunities, we have to shift consciousness from a job-seeking society to one where people see themselves as independent contractors and contributors and work for a number of projects and organisations at the same time.
All across the world, the traditional idea of a job is dissipating, and fast. Economies can no longer guarantee secure, contractual jobs with benefits.
We need short-term impacts. If we get people working, they will start spending more in their communities and the logical process of demand and supply will spur economic growth.
Getting people to work gives people exposure to new skills, opportunity to improve their CVs, and most importantly a sense of purpose.
Studies across the globe stress the importance of people’s need for a sense of purpose as it satisfies other fundamental components of the human psyche, such as a sense of worth, dignity and pride.
The overall psychology of the individual improves when these feelings are present. Purposeful individuals translate into healthier families and communities.
Also, we should not solely be focusing on the youth. That is not to say that they should be neglected. But rather, we need to include the 25-45 age group – the parents of the youth. This is roughly two generations of people who may not have had the opportunity of working since 1990.
However, there is some light in this bleak scenario.
DreamWorker, a non-profit organisation, is tackling the problem head on.
And the proof that it can be done is in the pudding: since inception in 2008 from a single office, DreamWorker has engaged and registered over 7 000 unemployed people and continues to engage with an additional 2 000 people per year.
Work placements of over 300 000 days of work have been recorded, translating into wages of over R40m.
This growth is beyond our wildest expectations.
DreamWorker has also created its own work creation programme called Link of Love.
A day of work can be sponsored for R100, which enables an unemployed person to work in their community.
This programme is geared towards creating work opportunities and uplifting poor communities.
Want to get involved? Visit DreamWorker.
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