DHS on strategies implemented to support women and youth in construction

Human Settlements (WCPP)

14 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms M Maseko (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Human Settlements, 14 October 2020, 09:00

The Committee on Human Settlements received a briefing from the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements on strategies implemented to support youth and women in the construction sector to enable them to become main players in the industry. The meeting took place on a virtual platform

The Department reported that its targets for spending on housing sector companies in which women and youth were represented had not been met. By 31 March 2021, the proportion of spending on contractors with women representation was 14.23 percent, against a target of 30 percent. For contractors with youth representation, the proportion was 3.10 percent, against a target of 10 percent.

The Department reported on its training initiatives. The Youth in Human Settlement Programme promoted active participation by young people between the ages of 18 and 35 in the built environment. Learners were remunerated at Extended Public Works Programme rates for a minimum period of six months. The Graduate Internship Programme employed graduate interns in town planning, civil engineering, project management and finance. For the 2020/2021 financial year, the department had approved the placement of 36 graduate interns.

The Committee was told that the recruitment and selection process depended on municipal agencies. In cases where the municipality did not have a job seekers database, the local youth organisations could assist with the process. A Youth Indaba had been planned for 2020 to encourage young people to participate in the Youth in Human Settlements programme. This had been postponed due to lockdown regulations, but plans are underway to revive the initiative.

The Committee also received a briefing from the companies, TechQ Development and Ms3 Property and Investments. The briefing outlined challenges in attracting and retaining women and youth in the construction industry. The Committee was told of efforts to create an enabling environment to link women in rural areas with professionals that could develop and support their businesses.

It heard that in-classroom training was not being converted into participation in construction. Capacity building and empowerment were not project linked. Women on site faced challenging attitudes and were poorly mentored. Women contractors in rural areas were further disadvantaged because government offices and those of the Construction Industry Development Board were unreachable. There was insufficient technical management and support from main contractors.

It was suggested that pilot projects in the Western Cape should implement a strategy to identify current women contractors for training and empowerment initiatives. ,

Members remarked on the difficulties of achieving transformation in the construction sector. They asked why the Department had failed to meet targets for spending on contractors in which women and youth were represented.  They asked what the Department had meant when it referred to a “tedious PPP process. The Department was asked why the West Coast area had not been earmarked for the provision of training.

The Committee resolved to invite other construction companies led by women and youth to give inputs on transformation. The Committee also proposed an oversight visit to a successful project that had achieved integration of youth and women. The DHS should identify such a project and forward it to the Committee. It was suggested that the head of the Department should update the Committee about the PPP framework so that the Committee could engage with other stakeholders on PPP challenges. Lastly, it resolved it should receive a report on the grading system of the CIDB

Meeting report

Briefing by the Department of Human Settlements: Women and Youth in Construction and Emerging Sector Training

Ms Phila Mayisela, Chief Director: Human Settlements Implementation, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (DHS), centred her presentation on targets not achieved for women and youth in construction; private and public partnerships; training and awareness programmes; and emerging contractor development programmes.

On the target for providing empowerment opportunities for women in construction, she said 14.23 percent of the spending on designated groups by March 2021 had gone to contractors with women representation against a target of 30 percent.  Contractors with youth representation received 3.10 percent against a target of 10 percent.

With regard to public and private partnerships, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between the DHS and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in August 2019. The NHBRC provided accredited training aligned with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and used construction sites for practical learning. Another partnership had been concluded with Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) for providing apprenticeship funding. Discussions had also been held with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The DHS was also exploring partnerships with private partners who were already providing support to women, youth and emerging contractors.

Ms Mayisela reported on the DHS’s training initiatives. The Youth in Human Settlement Programme promoted active participation in the built environment by young people between the ages of 18 and 35. Learners were remunerated at Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) rates for a minimum period of six months. Under the Graduate Internship Programme the department employed graduate interns in the areas of town planning, civil engineering, project management and finance. For the 2020/2021 financial year, the DHS had approved the placement of 36 graduate interns.

Recruitment and selection processes depended on the municipal human settlements and economic development components. In cases where the municipality did not have a job seekers database, the local youth organisations could assist with the recruitment and selection process. A Youth Indaba had been planned for 2020 to encourage young people to participate in the Youth in Human Settlements (YiHS) programme. While it had been postponed due to lockdown regulations, plans were underway to revive this initiative.

Ms Mayisela also stated that the National Contractor Development Programme (NCDP) aimed to achieve targeted developmental outcomes that improved contractors’ grading status. There were 64 emerging contractors on the DHS’s framework.

(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate planned youth and job creation opportunities for 2020/21; and YiHS performance for 2019/20.)

Briefing by TechQ Development and Ms3 Property and Investments: Women in Construction

Ms Thandie Kupe, TechQ Development Director, told the Committee there had been challenges in attracting and retaining youth and women in the construction sector. They were trying to create an enabling environment to link women in rural areas with professionals that could develop and support their businesses.

She said in-classroom training was not being converted into construction implementation and participation. Capacity building and empowerment were not project linked. Women on site faced attitude challenges and were poorly mentored and motivated. Women contractors in rural areas were further disadvantaged because offices of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and the government were unreachable. There was insufficient technical management and support from main contractors, and it became even worse when the main contractor was not a local one.

As a solution to the challenges, Ms Kupe suggested a “GAP approach.” GAP was an acronym for:
 - Governing private sector partnerships;
-  Appropriate support and empowerment;
- Participative skills transfer and mentoring.

This approach would prevent delays in housing delivery through implementation of effective, easy to use construction management and quality assurance control procedures. It would result in high quality, sustainable housing delivery and, in the process, empower contractors.

She suggested that pilot projects in the Western Cape should identify current women contractors and introduce the GAP approach to ensure service delivery and empowerment, transform training and ensure ongoing involvement of women in mainstream construction.

(Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate realities on site and their consequences; quality assurance and construction management systems; planning, monitoring and reporting; and evaluation and reporting.) 

Discussion

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said he had observed that transformation was hard to achieve. Most people’s hopes had been dashed. Most people have lost money in the process and it was going to be harder for them to regain their confidence. Experience, support and monitoring were very important and could go a long way. Training alone was not enough. He asked the presenters to comment on non-classroom training and indicate where they had identified gaps.

Ms Vuyiswa Ndzakana-Mabutyana, Director Ms3, explained that TechQ was involved in networks with departments and women in construction programmes in provinces. The departments needed to identify contractors and then TechQ would decide how they could assist them.

Ms D Nkondlo (ANC) commented that issues of youth, women and designated groups were cross-cutting. Integration was the best approach to ensure there were no inconsistencies and leaks in the system, especially in programme planning and design. She asked if there were any particular reports that could be sent to the committee in order for it to understand the low performance of the DHS in meeting its targets for women and youth spending, and asked if this was the result of lack of integrated planning. She disagreed with the notion that transformation was difficult to achieve. Studies had been done all over the world to show how to implement transformation. She asked TechQ and Ms3 to explain what their views were on the involvement of women in the construction sector.   She wanted some clarity on what the department had referred to a “tedious PPP process”. Lastly, had there been any efforts by the department to ensure market readiness?

Ms Mayisela explained that there were different programmes at the national, provincial and municipal levels. They were trying to streamline coordination. She said there was no documentation on the low performance of the department in meeting performance percentages. The Department had introduced interventions, but could not meet the set targets of 10 percent and 30 percent for women and youth, respectively. Most of the tender participants fell out due to compliance issues. They had now put training programmes in place to share with them challenges faced by the industry and what they needed to do to ensure compliance. Concerning the “tedious PPP process”, she said this referred to regulations and requirements for treasury approval for public-private partnerships (PPPs). It had to do with big infrastructure projects that involved big risk-sharing.

Ms Kupe stated that TechQ was 51 percent black-owned. Seventy percent of the staff were women.

Ms Ndzakana-Mabutyana added that Ms3 was 100 percent owned by black women. There were women at managerial and on-site levels. They intervened in rural areas where women in the construction industry faced challenges.

Mr D America (DA) asked whether the targets set for the training of young people would be adjusted for 2021 seeing that the current year had been abnormal. How would rural municipalities be supported, because they did not have the infrastructure to facilitate the participation of youth and women.

Ms Mayisela said the municipalities had their own set-ups in terms of capacity even though the DHS did engage with them. They provided funding for the appointment of clerks to assist in the human settlement value chain. That is why they wanted to roll out the Youth Indaba before the lockdown so that the message could be shared with the communities. She also pointed out there were challenges around youth contractors. The age limit was between 18 and 35. Those that were 35 did get trained, but did not get subsequent opportunities because they did not qualify as youths. That was the main challenge. It was not that the department was not taking them seriously. It was only that the interventions of the department had failed to meet the targets. The targets had been evaluated and adjusted.

The Chairperson asked what percentage of training was allocated to women. She noted the West Coast area had not been listed as an area earmarked for the provision of training. If no women were trained, that meant that the industrial development zone (IDZ) in that area would not be effective in its work. She wanted to understand the kind of challenges the department had identified in working with the private sector that had led it to talk about the “tedious PPP process.” She asked the department to share information with the committee on programmes that it had in different places so that Members could distribute it to their constituencies.

Ms Mayisela explained that in their graduate internship programme for youth and women they did not specify age, but tended to attract mostly young, female graduates. The programme was open to all ages. She stated there were no programmes for the Saldanha West Coast because they did not want to go ahead and train people and then leave contractors without a placement plan, because they needed to be trained on-site. Even the West Coast IDZ was not yet effective. She said contractors were graded from level 2 to 4, and from 4 to 6. That information would be sent to the committee. Pertaining to PPP challenges, she pointed out that in the past the private sector would approach the DHS for partnership, but the cost-sharing and risk-sharing part was always left unattended to. The private sector wanted the department to provide 100 percent funding, but refused to bring something to the party. She said the department had limited funds. The private sector needed to meet the department halfway to share costs and risks. She made it clear that the interventions of the DHS were tailor-made for existing smaller contractors. It planned to encourage municipalities to market opportunities that existed within their areas.

Committee resolutions

The Committee resolved to invite other construction companies led by women and youth to give inputs on transformation. The Committee also proposed an oversight visit to a successful project that had achieved integration of youth and women. The DHS should identify such a project and forward it to the Committee. It was suggested that the head of the Department should update the Committee about the PPP framework so that the Committee could engage with other stakeholders on PPP challenges. Lastly, it resolved it should receive a report on the grading system of the CIDB.
 
The meeting was adjourned.
 

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