South Africa's casual labourers given hope by Fundi skills scheme | Alex Duval Smith

From Global development | The Guardian Sat Dec 29 2012, 09:00:01

Men on the Side of the Road has introduced structure and skills to tackle unemployment in a highly casualised market

Unemployment in South Africa stands at between 26% and 50%, depending on who is doing the counting. That is why, every morning, untold numbers of men stand on the side of the road hoping to be picked up for a day's work at a rate to be decided by the employer. Men on the Side of the Road (MSR) was created to introduce structure and skills-building into this highly casualised labour market.

"The guys on the side of the road have to accept whatever is thrown at them in terms of payment and working conditions. Sometimes they are not paid at all," says Charles Maisel, an economist who created MSR in 2003. "The employer also does not know who he is getting. So we created a service that suits both sides and it now has more than 100,000 members."

Over the years, the non-profit group has grown to include all categories of unemployed people, including women, and in 2011 it was given the gender-neutral name Fundi. Fundi members are put through a short course in interpersonal skills and, in some cases, are given training in a trade.

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