South Africa's Gauteng province launched the first of 20 jobs centres on Monday in a bid to address unemployment and poverty among the province's youth.
The Lulaway Job Centre is a walk-in facility equipped with computers and staffed by trained young graduates on Louis Botha Avenue in Highlands North, Johannesburg.
The provincial Department of Health and Social Development plans to register and train 8 000 young job-seekers by the end of 2012/13. Of these, 5 000 will be placed in various permanent positions in the private sector, with more than 107 companies having pledged their support for the project.
At the centre, young job-seekers will be able to register on the job portal, receive career guidance, conduct screening tests and be assisted with job placement and job counselling. Free assessments are offered to ensure that young people pursue careers that complement their strengths.
The department's spokesperson, Sello Mokoena, explained that one of the unique features of the jobs centre model was to ensure that entry level positions were only available to the unemployed youth.
"We intend establishing 20 job centres throughout the province," he said, adding that some of the areas that will benefit from the project include Thembisa, Khutsong, Kagiso, Kwa-sokhulumi, Devon, Mamelodi, Diepsloot and Sicelo in Midvaal.
"The centres will be housed in existing development centres, Thusong Centres and Business Enterprise Centres as they are closer to communities," he said.
Mokoena said it was important for job seekers to possess skills such as problem- solving, creativity, synthesis and analysis.
"We need to increase access to information and to ensure that job-seekers are equipped with the relevant knowledge and market-related skills," he said.
Given the unemployment level in the province, employers would have to engage young job-seekers, and ensure that they have suitable credentials and practical experience to advance the economy, and to improve their lives.
"We are concerned about limited employment opportunities for young people. They need to take cognisance of what job opportunities are available in the marketplace, and they should also seek more job opportunities and capitalise on their personal strengths," Mokoena said.
He said jobs centres should be seen as a part of a greater strategy for ensuring that young people survive the challenges of the globalised economy, as Gauteng is part of the international jobs market.
Mokoena said too many young people find themselves locked into poverty and unemployment because of ignorance and lack of information.
"We urge them to make use of government services and to make informed decisions, which is why we have initiated this project."