Unemployed youth trained by Arc Skills win contract to build vital new homes in South Africa

Children ReadingArc Skills sees its prize students start their own company, win their first big contract and create job opportunities for 100 young people.

Arc Skills, the world’s first lifelong learning company, is celebrating the success of some of its formerly unemployed students after the company the students formed, Simunye Trading Construction, won its first house building contract.

The contract, with Mokgolokwane Civils (M Civils), will see Simunye build 20 low cost houses – valued at R1,960,000 ($140,000). As part of the process, Simunye is hiring around 100 young people as labourers, helping to address the chronic problem in South Africa whereby many young people cannot get jobs because they don’t have experience and they cannot get experience because they don’t have jobs.

More than three million South Africans, aged between 15 and 24, are neither employed nor pursuing higher education, while over 60% of unemployed, young South Africans have never worked before. Meanwhile, South Africa is experiencing an affordable housing crisis and there is a backlog of around 2.3 million homes. Arc Skills is helping to combat both problems by training unemployed young people like those who founded Simunye to build affordable houses.

Two years ago, in May 2017, Arc Skills was awarded a contract to train 60 unemployed young people across Guateng, South Africa. The Community House Building leadership training programme was conducted in partnership with the Motheo Construction Group, one of South Africa’s leading lights in construction. It tasked Arc Skills to select the most promising students from three underprivileged local communities – Westbury, Palm Ridge and Fraser House – where housing is a serious challenge.

Over 12 months the students learned key vocational skills including bricklaying, plastering, painting, glazing and carpentry skills. Their training consisted of detailed theory instruction, simulations of practical construction work and finally workplace experience on live construction sites. It was the first time Arc Skills had ever delivered TVET on Wheels in South Africa – a unique programme to rapidly skill up unemployed youth. The programme sees Arc Skills come to a location where there are employment opportunities and set up a temporary training facility where students can gain first-hand knowledge in a practical working environment.

Encouraged by their facilitators to consider using their newly acquired skills to start their own businesses and support themselves, 13 of the Palm Ridge group chose to band together a form the building company Simunye Trading Construction. Simunye, which means ‘We are One’ in isiZulu, symbolises the togetherness, unity, and passion that the 13 partners have and the vision and goals that they share.

Seeing the commitment and passion evident in the group, Arc Skills decided to help them further on their new path, tasking its Divisional Manager Andrew Zondi to provide additional guidance, coaching and support. He has worked with the team to provide significant mentorship in their entrepreneurial journey.

Motheo, their original sponsor, is also offering to do business with them, finalising an offer for Simunye Trading Construction to build low cost houses on their behalf, while also receiving further technical mentoring and support.