The seemingly hopeless plight of the inactive and discouraged residents of South Africa’s townships who are unemployed, especially those in Middelburg in the Eastern Cape, have long been on Annette Kingwill’s heart and mind.
Together with this burden she has carried a deep conviction to contribute to the empowerment of people without work, skills or hope.
However, the Lord laid it on her heart to wait.
So, she waited and continued to pray for guidance . . . all the while the urge to help in a meaningful way grew in her heart.
Then in April this year she attended the Global Leadership Summit in Port Elizabeth where one of the speakers said: “Now is the time”!
“It was as if God was saying to me, ‘Now is the time’,” says Kingwill.
“The very next speaker was Ena Richards who started Siya Sebenza, which is responsible for the roll-out of WORK 4aLiving Centres in every city or town where there is poverty or need.
“I immediately knew that the WORK 4aLiving programme was what the Lord was guiding me to begin in Middelburg.
“Ena had been in business and was frustrated by the lack of work ethic and development among the workforce. At the same time she was heartbroken for the prospects of the many young school-leavers who had to face the employment world, without networking contacts, family members who had been in business, or practical knowledge of how to find a job, let alone progress in a career.
“She proceeded to speak to hundreds of unemployed about the difficulties they faced and employers about the standards of excellence they expected.”
The WORK 4aLiving programme was developed with the emphasis that empowerment begins with listening.
For seven years Ena developed the programme by listening to both the unemployed and employers.
The unemployed said:
- “I am waiting for the government to give me a job”;
- “There are no jobs – there is no point in looking”;
- “I don’t even know how to find a job”;
- “I am poor, I will always be poor. Not matter what opportunity comes my way, my circumstances will not change” – a poverty mind-set;
- “I am owed something! Who will give me a house? Who will educate my children” – a mind-set of entitlement;
- “I just need to do enough to get by” – a lack of excellence mind-set.
- “I can’t find honest and reliable staff”;
- “If I want 20 cashiers on a Saturday, I have to employ 40 – just to get 20 to come to work”;
- “I can’t find people who take pride in their work”;
- “We spend our time recruiting and training instead of development . . . people come and go all the time”.
According to Work 4aLiving, if these mindsets are not changed, we will not change our country or continent. It all begins with overcoming the mindsets of poverty, entitlement and lack of excellence in every city, town and community in South Africa.
The Work 4aLiving programme teaches: How to find a job; How to keep a job; How to be promoted; How to work to a standard of excellence; Financial literacy; Principles of how to start and run a business; How to address ideological barriers; and God-centred morals and ethics.
All graduates of the programme leave equipped to: Conduct a professional job search; Excel in a job interview; Communicate effectively with an employer; Understand where employee’s loyalty should be; Take ownership of his or her job, promotional potential, and career; Understand that only excellence should be promoted; Be financially literate and understanding compound interest; Implement effective time management; Understand professional conduct in workplace; Understand an employer’s perspective; Serve customers professionally; Evaluate moral character and the consequence of decisions; and Starting and maintaining a business.
The WORK 4aLiving programme has now expanded to 21 centres in South Africa, three centres in Kenya, one in the Philippines, and new centres opening in Zambia and Zimbabwe soon.
On returning home to Middelburg, Kingwill enlisted the help of Wena Botha. The two women attended a WORK 4aLiving course and facilitator’s training programme in Port Elizabeth for two weeks.
Kingwill and Botha opened the WORK 4aLiving Centre in May this year with the assistance of the Middelburg Family Church, which donated office-and-lecture-room space as well as many of the necessities for the start-up.
The centre is now running its fourth phase-one course, which empowers students to break the cycle of poverty that stems from a poverty mind-set, spirit of entitlement and a lack of excellence.
The phase-one course equips students for the work place with “True Employee Power” that is a mind-set of being truly excellent and professional in everything they do, which will make them irreplaceable and assist in leading to promotion in time.
The centre has also run phase two courses that extends specific work skills, like merchandising, and is in the process of opening a computer centre for which Rhodes University has donated the computers.
The Gospel, employment and hope
“While WORK 4aLiving teaches employment and life skills, our main purpose is to share the gospel in a way that: strengthens students’ relationship with the Lord; strengthens their employability; and strengthens their hope,” says Kingwill.
“It is a wonderful way to spread the Lord’s word, because we are reaching people that we would never have had a chance to reach.
“We include God’s Word as well as biblical examples and principles throughout the course whether it has to do with life skills, how to save, how to be more employable, or how to approach a job interview, which prepares the students to realise the truth of God’s word.
“Although WORK 4aLiving generally experiences a rate of 50% of students committing their lives to the Lord, 100% of our students in the Middelburg centre have experienced salvation without us making it easy for them to make a commitment.
“We walk out of the lecture hall and students that want to make a commitment to the Lord have to follow us to a separate office.”
Kingwill says it is both encouraging and rewarding to see students set free from things to which they were in bondage and being in a position to fulfil their potential and God-given purpose.
“We teach our students how to have a relationship with the Lord. We have even encountered Church-going students to whom this has been a revelation and who are inspired to take the message of having a personal relationship with God back to their congregations.
“The WORK 4aLiving course has the potential of changing South Africa, one person at a time.”
Kingwill says it is gratifying seeing the students gain confidence and work skills in a rural environment that has high unemployment.
Stoffel George, who graduated from the WORK 4aLiving programme in July, says he is far more confident as a result of completing the programme.
Twenty-two-year-old George, whose only previous work had been as a farm labourer, says he was taught how to be work-ready and to be goal-orientated.
“I learned how to approach a job interview and have an attitude of excellence at the workplace.
“One of the most important lessons I learned during the course was to make money work for me by saving and earning compound interest.”
George has applied for a job at Capitec Bank and is due to write an entrance examination.
After graduating from the WORK 4aLiving programme in Middelburg, Nosi Peters has gone on to a professional barista course in Port Elizabeth where she has learned about the theory and techniques of making and serving espresso and coffee beverages.
She says the WORK 4aLiving programme taught her to appreciate her work and do it in excellence.
“I enjoyed doing the course, because it changed the way I was thinking about work; not to work only for the money, but to work to develop myself.
“I also learned to rely on God to overcome my problems and to speak with Him, which has helped me solve a situation that I didn’t know how to handle.
“I am starting to see the light in my life,” says Peters.
Once she receives her barista certificate she hopes to get employment with Wimpy.
It is also gratifying to see how employers are realising the benefits of employing WORK 4aLiving graduates, according to Kingwill.
KFC, which has been making use of Siya-Sebenza for recruitment purposes, says the candidates it has recruited from Siya-Sebenza definitely come with a strong sense of work ethic, attitude and commitment, which is an integral part of the training they receive from Siya-Sebenza.
KFC says having Siya-Sebenza as a channel from which it can recruit makes the work of the recruiter so much easier.
InSync Solutions started using Siya Sebenza’s WORK 4aLiving programme in 2013.
“Initially we saw it as an avenue to secure staff through their Job Centres as we had just acquired a contract to provide logistics services to Mercedes Benz in East London. We chose to use their recruitment arm specifically because we liked the fact that they taught ethics, work ethic, self-governance and financial literacy to job-seekers BEFORE we employed them.
“Once we saw what was being taught, we then decided to use the WORK 4aLiving programme as part of our induction process, putting ALL our new recruits (450) through the programme,” says Aza Briel, operations director at InSync Solutions.