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Today, I visited one of the 22 job centres that the City of Cape Town established to train and connect job seekers with employers across the metro.

In December the City embarked on its first outcomes-based workforce development programme to improve residents’ access to employment opportunities. Lulaway runs the three-year programme on behalf of the City.

The company is incentivised to train job seekers by identifying, preparing and placing them in education, training and ultimately securing permanent work opportunities for programme participants. These employment opportunities must be with big business and SMMEs across the city.

In Atlantis I met participant Chuma Jaqu, 25, who found employment through the programme. Jaqu, a resident from Gugulethu, struggled for two years to get a job. He matriculated in 2014 and volunteered at a hospital after completing a paramedics course.

Thanks to the City’s programme, Jaqu started work for Cashbuild in Gugulethu in February. Since then he was promoted from a general assistant to a cashier.

Over the next three years the City’s programme will run skills assessments of 30 000 unemployed residents, provide work-readiness skills training to 6 000 participants, and place 4 050 candidates in job opportunities.

This programme speaks to our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan’s goals to enhance economic inclusion and provide access to opportunities.

By empowering job seekers through work readiness training or linking them with employers, we are building an opportunity city by addressing unemployment and alleviating poverty.

Since the start of this year the programme has trained 295 participants in work readiness in the logistics, sales and marketing, call centre and retail sectors. The City has linked 29 job seekers with work opportunities.

Despite Cape Town’s unemployment statistics being better than other cities in South Africa, they are still unacceptably high. Cape Town has the lowest official unemployment rate, at 21,7%, of all the metros in South Africa.

We cannot redress the inequalities of our apartheid past if the formal economy remains elusive to many of our young residents. Government must work with business and all of society to ensure more job seekers and especially the youth have access to the economy.

Speaking to some of the job seekers today, I was inspired by the hope they have for the future. Cape Town is a more prosperous city because of young people like this driving our economy.

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