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Creative businesses reflect on the positive impact of CDI’s work-experience programme

Wednesday, 28 August 2019  
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The CDI earlier this year launched a youth work-experience programme which placed work-trainees in craft and design SMMEs who need additional capacity. Run as a pilot project, it is supported by the City of Cape Town’s Expanded Public Works Programme, and 21 companies have recruited and onboarded a total of 36 trainees on six-month long training opportunities.

The trainees, previously unemployed and generally inexperienced in the workplace, are being developed in the areas of office/business administration, production, and marketing/sales. On the 06 August 2019, nine weeks into the programme, the participating business owners were convened to reflect and give insight on their experiences to date.

The CDI’s Project Manager, Leone Hermans-Blackburn, says that the CDI programme and support is providing businesses with an opportunity to develop their HR systems and processes through practical experience; this is making them more ‘employer-ready’ and is developing their own proficiency in capacity building.

“The development of both the creative business and the work-trainee is supported as part of the programme. The touch-base session we recently ran in August was well received and allowed the CDI to gain insight into the challenges and successes of the process as experienced by the workplace. It also helped us gain insight into the training interventions needed for work-trainees – so that we could see where we could add value.

“The business owners expressed a need to convey business context to the trainees and teach them the connection between their work ethic and the consequential impact on the business. A desire for business literacy training for the trainees came to the forefront, with significant interest to supplement the business training with soft skills development.”

Leone adds that establishing human resource processes and procedures can be daunting for small businesses and is further compounded given the financial and time constraints of business owners.

“The conversation at the session in August covered the topics of recruitment, training and development, and retention as experienced to date. The ability to train, develop and ultimately retain suitable candidates was found to be a trickle down from the recruitment process. Yolanda Daniels, the HR specialist for the CDI’s work-experience programme, emphasised the importance of developing the job description, setting the expectations for both the work and the environment, and managing the training in unit increments.”

The CDI will reconvene the group of business owners at six-week intervals and will also develop a workshop session for all the trainees to share their experiences with their peers.


Based on the feedback from the sessions the CDI is preparing for a second round of recruitment of workplaces. If you are keen to apply watch this space for further information.



Here’s what some of the participating business owners have had to say about the positive impact of the CDI’s programme to date:


Zikhona Matomani, trainee at TableArt

Kerry Abramowitz, of TableArt, has taken on one work placement in production


The work placement programme has been a very positive experience for me. It has given me some time and breathing space to see what I need to do to grow the business further. I have already had the time to develop a new addition to our product range, with more in the pipeline. Production and stock control have been improved. I am expecting sales to increase over the Summer season and have stock and systems in place in order to cope with a (much, hopefully) bigger demand. For the first six weeks, I invested a lot of time in training and then in thorough quality control and the result has been better/faster than I projected. Now that I have been able to taper off a bit on supervision, I think that I will have even more time to improve and expand other aspects of the business.


The HR workshop that the CDI ran recently was very helpful in opening my eyes to challenges that the other businesses were experiencing and how they were handling them. Many were the same issues that I am having and some that will probably arise in the future.


Aretha Doyle,
of Cool Tabs, has taken on one work placement in sales/marketing

The programme has been very helpful. It came at the right time and it helped me prepare for the Decorex show this year. My products are time consuming, so I needed more hands. The sales assistant that I've taken on has been very helpful. She is learning to make stock as well and she can make few items already. She also helps with admin. The programme has helped me to focus on making more designs as I have an assistant now at the shop. I no longer need to go to the shop as often now, and this gives me time to design and produce more.


Pinkie Luswazi of 
Luspin Designs has taken on two work placements in production and admin


The HR workshop run by the CDI as part of the programme was eye-opening, and it was invaluable to network with other business owners. I met a business owner who focusses on weaving and this sparked a connection which will bring weaving into our next Luspin range. Before I was doing everything myself, such as patterns, cutting and stitching. I’ve learnt how to delegate and the importance of this for the business.

I also understood more about the need to recruit the right person for the job. My mistake in the past has been in this area, and it was very taxing trying to train the wrong person.

Having the admin support has been great; there is now someone to respond to emails immediately and flags important matters. Before I was trying to fit it all in when tired in the evening, and I would miss important emails.

I also wasn’t active on social media promoting my business. I now, through the work placement, have someone much more clued up on this. Lelethu (the work trainee) is also working with Caragh Barwise at the CDI to update my logo, as well as developing the website. It is exciting to me to have a person who is running with it and producing great results on their own.



Amanda Chagi (left) and Khanya Maphisa (right), trainees at Popcorn Tribe

Karen Tardieu of Popcorn Tribe has taken on two work placements in admin/operations

Popcorn Tribe is a women-owned B-BBEE level 1 snack manufacturing company based in Killarney Gardens. We manufacture Vegan and Gluten Free popcorn which is available in Wellness Warehouse stores, SPAR stores and at the Table Mountain shop to name a few. We have two trainees on the programme. SPAR stores began to retail our products in May and the trainees started on 3 June – just in time to help operationally.

They have been very helpful in all manners, from admin to operations. Although not experienced they are very motivated and committed to the programme and the objectives of the business.


The HR workshops run by the CDI as part of this programme gave us an understanding of the important legal requirements as an employer and it made templates available to us to help us fulfil our legal requirements. This helped us to concentrate on the other parts of the business, safe in the knowledge that we have done everything correct from an HR perspective.


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