SA Affordable Housing November / December 2017 // Issue: 67 - Page 6

NEWS Laying foundations to empower the community Corobrik recently implemented a nine-week bricklayer course for the Swellendam community. Vanessa Faro lays bricks across the top of a window opening. T welve Swellendam community members completed Corobrik’s training course in March and are now empowered with skills for suitable employment in the construction industry. “We have been successfully running a number of NQF- level bricklayer training courses out of our three training centres at Avoca, Lansdowne and Lawley for a number of years now with fantastic results,” says Christie van Niekerk, Western Cape Corobrik manager. “In our continuous effort to meet the needs of these community members, we recently introduced the nine- week bricklayer programme which is specifically aimed at creating employment opportunities for local residents by enhancing the public facilities in small, rural towns.” The Western Cape training centre, headed by Ismail Rothman, Corobrik building training coordinator, are not- for-profit with attendees sponsored by various organisations such as the Swellendam Tourism Economic Empowerment Partnership (STEEP). STEEP is a project implemented by the Swellendam Tourism Organisation (STO) in partnership with the Jobs Fund, Swellendam Municipality, Western Cape Provincial Government, WESGRO and others. The three-year project, which started in January 2015, aims to create jobs, provide skills training and unlock new enterprise opportunities for the benefit of disadvantaged communities of the Swellendam municipal area. At the same time, it grows and sustains local tourism and related economies through enhanced destination marketing and management. 4 NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2017 AFFORDABLE SA HOUSING Frank Croy practises the basics of laying a brick wall. There is particular focus on improving the lives of women, youth, disabled, the elderly and those who have never been employed. The 12 candidates sponsored for the training programme all came from the Suurbraak, Buffeljagsrivier and Railton communities and were taught bricklaying practices and life skills, which enables them to establish their own businesses. As Swellendam is a popular tourist attraction, the graduates – who received Certificates of Achievement – will be able to build braais and other public-use facilities in and around the area. Farouk Davids, skills training co-ordinator of STEEP, says that all the candidates expressed interest in self-improvement. “The key considerations in the selection process were people interested in bricklaying and having some experience in the building and construction environment,” says Davids. “They aim to become part of a skilled workforce and are willing to put in the hard work to achieve that.” STEEP also works to engage the trainees in meaningful employment following the training process. “During the training, we work with the local construction and building industry about possible employment opportunities,” he says. “A highlight was co- ordinating a local building and construction industry forum where the trainees were introduced. We are continuing discussions with construction companies that expressed willingness to provide job opportunities.”