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Coega a model for job creation

Some of the local labour from the Colchester area within the Nelson Mandela Bay benefiting from the construction taking place in the Coega IDZ. (left to right - front) Morne Herbst, Richardo Abrahams,Mpumelelo Gqogqani (back) Shane Arnolds & Cheslyn Billet.  Some of the local labour from the Colchester area within the Nelson Mandela Bay benefiting from the construction taking place in the Coega IDZ. (left to right - front) Morne Herbst, Richardo Abrahams,Mpumelelo Gqogqani (back) Shane Arnolds & Cheslyn Billet.

The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is providing a model for job creation in economically and socially distressed parts of South Africa.

According to the financial year 2014/15 Annual Report, CDC created 14 765 direct jobs through various projects in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) and in government infrastructure development programme.

This brings the total job creation in the Coega IDZ to 62 142 jobs since inception.

“The importance of creating jobs is that it reduces the climate of insecurity within the local community. Jobs afforded by CDC projects put food on the table for many households across the country,” said Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC Unit head marketing and communications.

The organisation is helping to reduce levels of poverty in both urban and rural areas across the country by prioritising the employment of local labour on a ratio of minimum 70% – 30%.

CDC inspectors ensure that contractors working on site adhere to the requirement that 70% of the people working on construction projects should reside within the area the projects are situated.

“Having such targets documented is critical for the cohesiveness of projects. It ensures that there is a direct skills transfer into the local labour, and that those skills are retained in those specific areas, said Duncan Grenfell, CDC Head: Recruitment and Placement.

The CDC maintains a database of skills available in the areas in which it operates to assist both the private sector and parastatal organisations. An example is the job opportunities created for general contract workers living in the Colchester, which borders on the western boundary of the IDZ. Their stories tell of the plight facing workers in the rural and peri-urban areas.

“I am grateful for this opportunity because now I can put food on the table for my family and pay for my child’s school fees as I was not working before,” said Cheslyn Billet, 27 year old, general worker at one of the projects. 

Billet adds that he currently stays with his partner and two children, and is the sole breadwinner in the house as his partner is unemployed.

According to Mpumelelo Gqogqani, a 32 year old general worker, “I have two kids and come from a family of five with only my father working. It was difficult for him to provide for the entire family. This job will alleviate the pressure at home and assist with taking my kids to school”.

Shane Arnolds a 32 year old general worker adds, “I’m learning a lot and I must say I’m enjoying the work I’m doing. I currently have three kids who I’ve managed to take to school due to my employment here at the Coega IDZ. What is even nicer is the fact that I can even give them a bit of lunch money.”

Morne Herbst, a 32 year old general worker on site says, “I’m married with two children and was unemployed before I got this opportunity. Today, I’m able to provide for my family. I enjoy what I do and would like to pursue a course in building and construction so that one day I may be qualified.”

Richardo Abrahams a 32 year old general worker adds that “this opportunity represents new beginnings for my career and family. I live with my partner and 10 year old son plus two-month-old baby. Before this job I was unemployed and I also have to take care of my extended family as they also are unemployed.”

The CDC ensures that local communities further afield also receive job opportunities on Coega projects, as can be evidenced through the recent provision of jobs for 21 people from the Cannonville, Colchester and Sunday's River areas, who benefited from various construction projects on the Coega IDZ.

“Job creation is an important aspect in alleviating poverty. The CDC is aware of this and consistently makes sure that we create opportunities where none are available,” adds Dr Vilakazi.

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