Tabitha Wright-Ingle, of 1FM, interviews Crosby Hunda and Henrico Esau of Grow Recruitment

Tabitha [00:00:16] So could you tell us just a little bit about how Grow Recruitment started and why it did?

Crosby [00:00:23] So it started about a year and a half ago by Alfred Botha and a lady by the name of Bev Meldrum. Alfred has 20 years’ experience in the industry and he’s been connected with Bev, working on various projects mainly youth unemployment projects and Foster CPT (Foster Cape Town). Bev has about 20 years’ experience in social entrepreneurship. They came together and they were working on youth unemployment and youth projects in South Africa and decided to branch out from that and started Grow Recruitment – where the focus was on youth unemployment.

Tabitha [00:01:16] So what are some of the services that you provide with Grow Recruitment?

Crosby [00:01:27] Grow Recruitment is like any other regular recruitment agency. The difference is that we are fighting a really huge problem – youth unemployment, especially in our disadvantaged communities. It’s a very critical problem; and it’s a national problem. The main service we offer, other than just helping youth get experience in different work environments and job shadowing opportunities, is permanent placements. We also help them with their CV, ensuring their CV is well presented, and ready to show off to prospective employers. And the other thing that we focus on is job readiness. We work with partner organisations to make sure these youths are ready and they know what they need to do once they are employed.

Tabitha [00:02:44] Because youth unemployment increased in the first quarter of this year to 27.6% which is increasing quite radically.

Crosby [00:02:58] The funny thing is that you know it’s not really just a South African problem, but an African problem, a third world problem – especially in disadvantaged communities. They don’t have people or connections that can help them move from high school into a career or anyone they can call and ask advice to get them  to the next level. So what we are doing differently as opposed to any recruitment agency is that we are actually taking the initiative to go out into the communities. We come to the young people, as opposed to them coming to us. We’ll sit down with them and go through their CV, to make sure it is the best presentation of them and their skill set. Often they are so desperate and when we ask them what they want to do, they say anything. We always try and make sure that we ask them what they want to do, and what they are passionate about. If you don’t have an idea of what you’re passionate about, I’ll ask you what do you think when it’s Sunday when you don’t have anything to do? I always use this example, because when you are by yourself, with nothing to do, and you are sitting at home, you can find yourself imagining what you will be doing in your future, that’s when you find the things you are passionate about. Give me that and then you can start working for us. So once we find the passion and the love of what they want to do then we try to help them career wise and see where they can fit within, the various industries.

Tabitha [00:04:44] We are back with Grow Recruitment and we are chatting to these two gentlemen who know what it’s all about out there. Jobs are scarce; a lot of people are unemployed. So tell us, how do you go about growing that talent pool. What is the process from start to finish in helping others out there.

Henrico [00:05:04] Hi, I’m Henrico from Grow Recruitment. What we usually do is on a Tuesday we go to the I-CAN Centre in Elsie’s River, from 10 – 12 noon. And that is where we will do the intake of CVs of different young people, particularly from that area.   Some of them don’t know how to put together a CV together, and some don’t have access to internet facilities – and that means we can offer this service to them. We do the screening also as well. When we sit with them, we try to find out what type of job they want. Too often people tend to want to take any kind of work, because they need the income, and then they find themselves depressed and not happy and they end up leaving.  

Tabitha [00:05:50] Yes, and they only end up staying in it for a certain period of time and its not really what they wanted to do in the first place.

Henrico [00:05:52] Many of them lack knowledge about the process, and don’t know how to go about it. Also, where the crime rate in our country is concerned, the crime rate is up where youth unemployment is up. So we have focused our business on fighting youth unemployment, like Crosby said, what we also do for companies is get staff who live close by, to save the company from losses relating to people coming late to work. But basically we do everything for screening of the person, including background checks; everything before we take them to the next level.

Crosby [00:06:35] Just to just to add one thing to what Henrico was saying, as he is coming through on an administrative position. I mostly trying from a marketing and communications angle. So what we do, or what I do, on the team on a daily basis, we start off on our Facebook page and let youth know what we are doing right now and where we will be in the week – at the I-CAN Centre every Tuesday from 10am to 12 noon. We always get a huge response from that – which from one perspective which is great as we are getting engagement. But at the same time it means that there are lots of people unemployed. And the reason why they’re unemployed – it’s hard out there – there are no opportunities out there for them.  So for us, through social media, when we are trying to talk about Grow Recruitment – it’s easy with the job seekers because they are looking for work. But it’s harder working and collaborating with these community organisations. So after we post on Facebook I do a lot of research, which is a key part of my job. I know a lot of friends who also come from different backgrounds and they’re still struggling. They’re well educated, they’ve got all the relevant qualifications they need but they still can’t get jobs. So I do a lot of research across different areas in Cape Town, where are focusing for now. But we do want to branch out to every corner of South Africa. So once you do the research we look at what other social enterprises are doing. If there are any social enterprise organisations out there that are doing something similar or something that speaks of language then we reach out, and this is what we did with I-CAN we reached out to them. I-CAN is a community centre that offers short term personal development skills training, where you don’t need any sort of qualification to do these courses. They actually offered for free fee, I think – they only pay an amount to join. Forgive me if any of my information may be incorrect. Basically the I-CAN Centre offers you an opportunity to develop those skills, which is clearly what we are also trying to do, and also ties in to helping people become job ready. So it made sense for us to partner with I-CAN. We now liaise on a regular basis about what events we want to do. Once we are at I-CAN we have other youth come in, some without CVs who are looking for employment.

Tabitha [00:09:56]  Yes, because how do they cope out there anyway? Some people don’t even have computers to type up a CV, let alone how to type it or event get it to you by email or the internet. 

Crosby [00:10:11] Many of the youth are actually not comfortable using this new technology and don’t even understand how it works. It’s funny I was under the assumption that most of the youth actually see our posts on Facebook, but it’s actually through word of mouth, from the small number of youth that actually see the posts. Every time we go there and we ask how they found out about us, they will say that ‘someone told me that they saw it on Facebook’. So that’s really working. But the thing is when they do come through they don’t have CVs, which we’re happy to do that, because we are out here to help communities. So there’s someone who’s always going to be dedicated to help actually writing the CV from scratch if need be.

Tabitha [00:11:18] Do you go to any of the communities yourselves or do you just go to that I-CAN Centre?

Crosby [00:11:25] We have also been to St. Cyprian’s Church in Langa, we are also in collaboration with them. So if anyone is listening to this show right now please feel free to reach out. We are opening hubs in communities in Cape Town and we want these hubs to be self-sufficient. So basically we want to create this hubs because we don’t want these youth looking for jobs to wait. For example, if you’re staying in Khayelitsha, I don’t want you to work in Cape Town because there’s going to be an issue of transport and people are always complaining about bus rides and train delays.  So just to add to what Henrico said, is one of the key selling points is that we try our best to place people close to their place of residence. What that does is improve productivity within the workplace. So when you start work at 8am you can always be on time. Many of these positions are minimum wage, as many of our youth are from disadvantaged communities and most of them don’t carry a lot of qualifications. So we make sure that we help them understand that you might you will by working if you stay in Elsie’s River and you’re working in Epping Industrial  it’ll make sense to you. One, you will save money as your money won’t go to transport, so you can actually save it to take care of other expenses. It’s always going to be early at your workplace. That’s another key issue that people don’t realise …

Tabitha [00:13:14] … and the traffic is hectic here in Cape Town. Oh my goodness I’ve spent two hours on my way to the CBD the once, I thought oh my gosh, I’m not going there again.

Crosby [00:13:23] So you’d be surprised if you actually tried to do numbers on how many people are laid off from work, just because they get to work late. And it says a lot about you if you’re not time conscious, how you treat your job or your workplace. So we try to eliminate all that and you know it always works in the best interests of us, as an organisation because it looks good on paper, and  You know it’s organization because we look good on paper good and it also makes the employees look good. Some of these employees may be employed on a casual basis, let’s say for example one of the factories that we work with in Epping Industrial.

Tabitha [00:14:04] So do you do temporary employment and permanent? 

Crosby [00:14:09] So we do a whole array of employment which is from job shadowing, internships paid or not paid because we are trying to get these youth to get some sort of experience at first and exposure to the work environment. So job shadowing, internships, casual employment, part time, permanent, contractual, whatever the case might be. Any opportunity is good enough opportunity for someone out there. So whatever opportunity you have, come over to our website or Facebook page. We are welcoming and we’re open to taking opportunities because there is always something for someone out there.

Tabitha [00:14:50] Absolutely.

Henrico [00:14:55] We also have WhatsApp number also where they can just screenshot it and send it onto the WhatsApp group and then we take it from there. Also with the companies we try to partner with, and that does not always job recruitment opportunities. We always try to partner with them to see if there are any learnership opportunities they have or any internships opportunities. So both ways it’s a win-win. And basically we just focus on the youth, to solve the unemployment problem in our country because it’s about the youth at the end of the day.

Tabitha [00:15:34] It all begins there and then you start growing up. And well even elderly people now have issues finding jobs as well. Qualifications or not.

Henrico [00:15:49] I’m speaking from my personal experience I had a lady that is over 60 and came and spoke to me when I did the I-CAN screening myself and she was actually wanting to work still. And she was saying she went to a number of different places, but they weren’t employing her because of her age. It’s difficult to describe how I felt, that old lady who would want to work, struggling.

Tabitha [00:16:15] That was going to be my other question. What sort age ranges and all that? What do you do now?

Henrico [00:16:20] What we do is we try to accommodate people from different age groups – from young to old alike. So with that lady, they tried to place her in some sort of domestic type of a job, where she could work three days a week. She was saying she couldn’t cope with just a pension and in most of the situations in the disadvantaged communities, it’s like that. Their children and grandchildren don’t work and live off grants that the parents or grandparents get. We’re trying to break that chain – that’s the only way you can solve something like this – you break the chain. We also do placements for people with disabilities. 

Tabitha [00:17:18] That’s fantastic. Now with disabled people, I’m assuming it’s people in wheelchairs, so do they still have to go to that centre or do you go to them.

Crosby [00:17:30] Thank for actually saying that, I forgot to mention that. So that’s what we’re trying to do. There are a  substantial number of disabled youth that are really interested in learning more about Grow Recruitment and how they can get their next career opportunity. We get together a group, and talk through what they want. But the reason is that you know it may not be easy for them to commit on a regular basis. So we’re still making the final decision regarding that, but hopefully you know you can do something we want to do on a regular basis that you say every once in a month or twice a month we can invite disabled youth that are looking for new opportunities.

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