By Natashia Barnabas, Industrial Relations Manager at Workforce Staffing
While the Covid-19 pandemic threw the world, and South Africa, into chaos, it was also responsible for rapidly pushing the digital agenda. As more people are now empowered to work from home, it becomes less necessary to live in main centres, and ‘Zoom Towns’ are emerging as desirable places to live. Remote and rural areas can benefit significantly from the income that being a remote working hub can generate. However, the success of these Zoom Towns are dependent on fibre infrastructure, and South African telecoms companies are making great strides. To speed up this deployment, a Temporary Employment Services (TES) partner can assist with providing the skills and resources needed, while handling all the administrative aspects of hiring for contract-based employment. Bringing ubiquitous high-speed Internet connectivity to South Africa’s rural areas will be hugely beneficial for economic growth and stability.
Opportunities for all
Digital transformation and remote working enable people to work from anywhere where there is fast and reliable Internet connectivity. This means that the traditional ‘semigration’ of people from their more remote hometowns to main city centres is no longer a necessity. Skilled workers can remain closer to their families while still generating an income, and they can also create economic circulation by spending their money within these communities, rather than only in certain hubs. Business owners can also develop their communities by utilising their skills and resources into job creation within these areas now that Internet connectivity will be available to assist the business. Communities will benefit in terms of education, from primary school to tertiary levels, using this access to digital technology, whilst also leaning and developing technology skills and online learning capabilities. Potentially, digital transformation could be the change South Africa needs for greater economic growth.
However, before we get there, we need the infrastructure, and this rollout of fibre into more remote communities offers opportunities for employment, in both unskilled general labour as well as a variety of skilled resources. This includes technicians, planners, splicers, designers, engineers, project and roll out managers, implementation managers, site supervisors and IT skills. Telecoms companies need to have access to skills as well as general labour to facilitate the fibre rollout, and a TES partner can prove invaluable.
Specialist partners speed the way
Sourcing skilled and unskilled resources can be an administrative headache, particularly in more outlying areas which are away from the head offices of telcos. The fibre rollout is also a project-based initiative and managing hundreds or thousands of fixed-term employment contracts/contractors can be challenging. Partnering with a reputable and experienced TES provider ensures that the right skills can be sourced, often from the very communities in which fibre is being rolled out, vetted, and trained as needed. All the contracts, terms and conditions of employment, payroll, human resources, industrial relations, and more are all taken care of, which removes a significant burden from telcos. With a TES partner, telcos can focus on rolling out infrastructure at speed, supported by the right resources for the job, and when they move into maintenance mode, any ongoing resources can be supplied and managed as and when needed.
For employees, a TES partner ensures that contractual terms and conditions of employment, including wages are effectively negotiated in terms of the relevant legislation such as the National Minimum Wage Act No. 9 of 2018 (NMWA), Basic Conditions of Employment Act No.75 of 1997 (BCEA), the Labour Relations Act No. 66 of 1995, just to name a few. There is also access to other services such as support with Labour Relations and Human Resources. A reputable TES provider from a large group can also offer additional value to employees with access to medical insurance, Life cover, Funeral cover, Gap cover, access to finance in the form of short-term loans, legal expertise, and skills development initiatives (internships) to enable ongoing gainful employment.
Giving rural labour a leg up
The rollout of fibre and the possibility of remote working makes it viable for people to live outside of main city centres, bringing many opportunities. Access to technology is key for South Africa’s future, and fibre is the backbone this springs from. TES providers can support telcos in the fibre rollout to speed up the process with access to appropriate skills and resources and administrative support, bringing economic inclusivity and job creation to more areas within South Africa faster, to facilitate growth.