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Among the urgent tasks facing the leadership of one of Africa's fastest growing and most complex cities, two stand out: maintaining and improving service standards, and service quality in ways which account for the complexities and opportunities to be found across often sharply contrasting neighbourhoods and communities, and changing the reality of poverty, inequality and unemployment in a city where the 2011 census found over 800,000 work-seeking adults failing to secure a livelihood for themselves.
The City of Joburg is taking on both of these era-defining challenges with a bold new programme known as Jozi@Work, which will see over 1 billion in City contracting serviced by an estimated 1750 new and existing community level co-operatives and enterprises, supporting 12,500 permanent livelihoods in the first year of the programme alone, with a total of 40,000 new jobs servicing the City's spend across 9 sectors by the close of the current Mayoral term.

" This programme will change the way the City does business- creating thousands of new neighbourhood co-operatives and micro enterprises hungry for entry-level workers, " said Tau . "They will be servicing needs as diverse as de-sludging of chemical toilets, separating and recycling waste as it arrives at our dumps, providing food to our nutrition programmes, resurfacing and maintaining our roads and providing frontline support to our water and power infrastructure. Our residents will be our suppliers as well as our customers – and transacting locally will make them better at being both. It will mean better value for money paid to the city and faster, more attentive service in return for money paid into the City through rates and service charges". Later this year, the programme will expand to include back office support to improve the functioning of City services, as well as a 10 % slice of the City's maintenance work and 5 % of its capital construction.

Using a special new supply chain process developed in consultation with national treasury, the City will source community-based enterprises and co-ops through a new network of regional bidders briefings (known as regional Jozi@work forums) with small, very small and micro concerns pitching for business with the City using a simple and streamlined process. Work is to be spread as widely as possible, and will be overseen by a new system of Capability Support Agents the City is currently in the process of procuring. These agents will provide professional oversight, mentoring, quality assurance as well as enabling the enterprises given work to purchase raw materials and rent necessary equipment, recovering costs from monthly contract payments as milestones are met. In this way, a much wider range of poorer and middle class residents alike will find barriers to entry for those seeking to participate in the economy lowered.

To raise the level of skills and opportunities, the City is also building an apprenticeship programme that will be announced in more detail later this year. The Mayor explained that workers gaining on-the-job experience on the work packages assigned through the system will also be able to build up their skills through an apprenticeship programme which will include digital learning at recreation centres and libraries after hours and on days off. The result will be a trade certification and a chance to take their expertise further.

A new Community Innovation Fund linked to this programme, will come on stream later in the year. Through this initiative, we will give the new regional forums the opportunities to propose locally-led projects which fit the Jozi@work objectives, but not funded under the line item budgets of the City's departments and municipal agencies.

The schedule of public information meetings during the month of August is available here