Discovery Health has broken the 500 employee mark this quarter, creating an employment boom in the business process outsourcing sector (BPO) in the Nelson Mandela Bay region.
This milestone is particularly significant for young graduates in the region who are able to access a sustainable job after completing a degree.
Hennie Van Staden, Discovery Health’s Service Executive, said the Eastern Cape has “enjoyed tremendous growth”. Since 2011 the Discovery Eastern Cape branch has grown from 45 to 503 staff in 2014.
Van Staden said the company’s strategy was to create more than 200 additional permanent jobs at its BPO Park call centre by next year 2015. This process was well underway, he added, with 300 applicants already on the system for vetting. This would bring the figure of those employed at Discovery in the Eastern Cape to over 700.
“This growth has not been about sheer numbers but has also assisted in maintaining our purpose of enhancing people’s lives. We have not only created employment opportunities but we have also become an employer of choice and a force for social good,” Van Staden said.
“Fundamentally the growth of our business is about people. People are at the centre of everything that we do and strive for.”
The company has taken steps to ensure that its employees’ well-being is also catered for: “We are aware that they have to travel some distance to get to work. For this reason we have a shuttle service that ferries staff to and from work.
“There are a number of leisure and well-being amenities in our building. We have an on-site psychologist and a doctor. We have facilities that range from a gym, to a hair salon and a spa, creating opportunities for people to improve their health and well-being.”
Permanent job opportunities are growing in the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ), Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega Development Corporation (CDC) head of marketing and communications said.
“We welcome the fact that Discovery is thriving and taking such bold, but incremental steps, to ensure that sustainable jobs are created. Through their recruitment we are retaining and growing young talent in the province.
“More jobs are also on the way. Two investors, DCD Wind Towers and Agni Steels, are at commissioning phase, which means they are readying themselves for production. Meanwhile FAW is about to start commissioning and testing phase between now and April,” said Vilakazi.
“By the end of the year Air Products will have completed construction and Dedisa Peaking Power Plant will be at an advanced stage in construction. What this effectively means is that new industries and our investors are creating jobs where none were before, this is whole point of IDZs and we are happy to see policy becoming practice.”
A combination of investor expansions and new operations coming online will add over 1000 new jobs to the region.
Since inception the Coega IDZ has also generated a large number of jobs in excess of 50 000 with 47 186 construction jobs and 4409 operations jobs evolving out of investment in the IDZ.
“Many of the skills needed are connected to the established automotive industry, but soon skills will be created that are applicable to other sectors too. For example, some employees working on wind tower manufacture may have skills that are transferable to the nuclear industry,” said Vilakazi.
The number of future operational jobs to be created by immediate pipeline investors is estimated at 3 147.
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