Teach someone to fish and you feed them for a lifetime. In many ways, this last part of the familiar phrase has become a tortured reference in recruitment spheres. The idea that a lack of skills is the primary stumbling block prohibiting unemployed individuals from gaining access to opportunities has become an excuse for inaction and deniability amongst recruiters.
At a time when long-term solutions and accountability are in short supply, we are obligated to revisit this tired phrase with a clear mind. If we have any hope to ameliorate living standards across the globe, we need to think of ways to apply this reasoning to the modern business world.
While Boldr is driven to give back to the community, we actively pursue initiatives that will make a difference in the longer term. We believe that sharing skills and experience has the ability to empower people who would otherwise not have been able to provide for themselves. It is the bait with which they can find gainful employment.
After cutting our teeth on smaller projects, like community-based skills workshops in Mexico and the Philippines, we decided to go fishing for projects that would accomplish the meaningful change we were after.
Looking for the talents hiding in the shadows
Shadow Careers is a South African-based organization that seeks to uplift youth employment and career creation through human-centric curriculums. By partnering with Shadow Careers, Boldr set out to prepare candidates for the fascinating world of outsourcing. Stringent criteria was used to qualify individuals who were from impoverished backgrounds, living below the breadline and who would normally not have access to learning and development opportunities.
Once qualified, they would be enrolled in a 3-month business process outsourcing (BPO) training initiative. Boldr committed to a cohort of 20 candidates by paying their placement and training fees. We took them through a comprehensive training process where we upskilled them in specific areas, such as typing speed, voice, and customer care, through active work experience, which ultimately translates into confidence.
The team was not only receptive and willing to learn, but they were grateful for the opportunity to show their desire to thrive. In turn, we committed to their journey and sought placement for every individual at Sigma, a fellow BPO with a successful history of hiring candidates through Shadow Careers. With the entire team employed, we moved on to the next project.
Good works and digital skills
In 2012, the Good Work Foundation (GWF) launched a learning center in the farming town of Hazyview, which borders the Kruger National Park in South Africa. They were on a mission to educate, employ, uplift and empower members of the community at their home, where they could remain living while earning an income. Fast forward ten years and this great initiative has grown into various learning campuses spread across numerous towns where skill sets are being cultivated.
These campuses offer bridging programs for matriculants to ready them for work, then carry out additional modules of training for when students are able to identify their career aspirations. Additional advanced modules include hospitality, conservation, IT, and more. Initially Boldr recruited 4 Data Service Associates (DSA) to work with our Barksdale team.
All these team members came through the bridging academy, so they had some experience with IT, and could perform tasks such as data entry. Their integration into our team went incredibly well. They were equally excited to be a part of the recruitment drive. We immediately identified this as an opportunity to partner with the Good Works Foundation and to start employing individuals from this area.
Subsequently we expanded the Barksdale team, with all 11 team members (10 DSAs and 1 Team Captain) sourced through the Foundation’s Digital Learning Centers. Next, the dream is to introduce a BPO specific module for future learners and to consider the construction of a 200-seater call center to further stimulate growth in the community.
Our Hazyview exercise of ethical outsourcing has allowed us to create opportunities in a remote community. This process ensures that family units are not broken up when wage earners are obligated to seek employment in the big cities. It is the very embodiment of our belief that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not.
Opportunity created and talent found
Ernest Mabunda began his journey with GWF in 2019 after completing high school. He completed his bridging year through the Lilydale academy, then enrolled in the Lilydale Digital Learning Campus.
“I would walk more than 4 km everyday to attend the GWF campus, but I never found the distance challenging because I loved and enjoyed what I was doing at GWF,” recalls Ernest. “I was inspired by the work they do at the campus. They give people a chance to explore themselves. I remember doing the Ready-to-Work People Skills when the facilitator announced that only one student passed the course. And that student got 100%. And guess what? That student was me, Ernest Mabunda. I never took the results for granted. I remained dedicated and completed my studies.”
Ernest went on to be crowned 2019 Best Student of the Year. Just before the national lockdowns in 2020, he got a call about an assessment at the Hazyview Digital Learning Center. He got the job as a data capturer for VAT IT Reclaim SA, then was promoted to supervisor of 27 team members. The VAT IT contract came to an end around the time that Boldr was in discussion with GWF.
“I went through all the hiring processes, then I was given the opportunity as Team Captain of the Boldr Barksdale team. We started with 4 team members, but have since expanded to 10. We are excited about how this impacts the local community and we look forward to more of these opportunities in future.”