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Realising the potential for South Africa’s unemployed

Realising the potential for South Africa’s unemployed

The BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry, led by Nutun, specialists in digital business services, has stepped forward as the shining star of realising the potential for South Africa’s unemployed.

The company recently showcased the results of proven partnerships and initiatives that will lead the transformative charge to increased employment, supporting BPESA and the dti’s mission to create 500,000 jobs by 2030. The One Agent - One Child initiative is rewriting the country’s education and training story, one youth at a time.

Rod Jones, an admired consultant, reflected on the evolution of the BPO industry over four decades, bringing to light the significance of the youth in the sector’s employment pool. “In the eighties, outsourcing showed potential for employment, and now decades later, youth have become the key players,” he said. “From a mere 5000 agents back then to 80,000 - 90,000 international agents now, mostly unearthed through impact sourcing, the industry is experiencing a promising change.”

Over two days at Nutun’s impressive Kingsmead site, the magnitude of that thrust to create employment and change lives was unveiled. Presenting to international clients and stakeholders, the tour included meeting team leaders and staff, exploring innovative technologies and performance management metrics, and engaging in the company’s Kinetic wellness programme, showcasing a fresh, modern and mindful face of the BPO industry.

The lasting impression went beyond an understanding of the company’s working mechanisms, and into the value the company places in its people, as well as a genuine spirit of teamwork and collaboration in action.

Kim Bailey, Head of Nutun’s ‘Strive Academy’, painted a vivid picture of the opportunities being created for the youth. With a mission to inject new blood into transforming not just their future but that of their communities as well. It’s a perfect synergy, for every agent employed, a child will go through the literacy programme and be tutored to read - each agent of Nutun acting as the catalyst. the industry, the academy ensures that every recruit is nurtured with an in-depth understanding of the sector they will be placed in.

“Very few BPO training outfits go beyond workplace readiness and into partner or client readiness, understanding the country, language, news, the client’s marketing assets and the brand’s challenges and opportunities. We observe the partner and get as much info as possible about the client,” she explained. “We have more than 500 people going through training each week. They get paid whether they pass or fail.”

This dedication to skills development was further demonstrated in a heartwarming graduation of 20 youth who had completed the ‘Shadow Careers’ programme and were acknowledged in a Nutun auditorium filled with international clients. Their stories of transformation reverberated through the room, filling it with a tangible sense of hope and belief. Immaculately presented, confident, and sharing their profound appreciation for the opportunity and their mentors, they brought many in the room to tears, evidence of the power that real care and a whole heart can transform South Africa’s employment landscape.

As the sun set and the evening drew in, hundreds of guests descended for The New Dawn Evening Event at the Nutun Office in Umhlanga to bid farewell to Synergy Contact Centre which had been acquired by Nutun.

Niall Mellon, founder and chief executive of Mellon Educate, unpacked the reason for the One Agent - One Child partnership between Nutun and his charity which is building literacy hubs across the country. A close friend of Nelson Mandela, Mellon had made a lifelong commitment to the former president to tackle literacy education. “Of the 1,127,000 children in Grade 4 classrooms today, you would be shocked to hear that 914,000 cannot read for meaning. Imagine that figure. After 20 years of running our housing programme in South Africa, I am always very cautious to under promise and over-deliver. I can confidently say to you we have come up with a solution for illiteracy.”

As guests moved outside, the vast sound stage, prepped for the big show, did not fail in its delivery, a sequence of moving stories played on the big screen, an emotional journey down memory lane, and DJ Tira lifting Nutunites to dance the night away.

The resounding message that was felt by the original Synergy owners, Des and Haydn was, “It’s all about the people”. They shared the stage with CEO Paul Swainson, reflecting on the company’s immense journey – one filled with challenges, triumphs, and relentless dedication to their purpose.

A big screen countdown catapulted Synergy into Nutun with a burst of fireworks. The sky filled with the company’s metamorphosis, as lights transitioned from the familiar Synergy purple to a vibrant Nutun laser green.

Perhaps best encapsulated by the words of Paul Swainson, who said, “We have evolved retaining the very best of Synergy, an absolutely fantastic and fun place to work, and now creating even more opportunity and partnering with changemakers such as Shadow Careers and Mellon Educate. We are many, there are almost 7000 of us, and now we are One.”

The following morning served up a school visit to Natest Primary School, a recipient of the Mellon Educate programme, where the raw impact of Nutun’s efforts was visible. On arrival, joyful children welcomed the attendees, their songs filled with hope, gratitude, and dreams for a brighter future.

The company’s literacy programme, implemented in collaboration with Mellon Educate, has already made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children, summarising these transformative days, the spirit of Nutun is encapsulated in the shared sentiments of the tutors and the learners: a mutual recognition of the privilege of education, a drive to uplift their communities, and a commitment to the hard work ahead. It is a testament to the power of education and employment to bring about profound change in individuals, communities, and the nation, vividly illustrated by young learners at computers learning to read, their heads barely popping up over the desk, with headsets and microphones on. A moment to behold.

Bernadette Smyth from Mellon Educate underscored the importance of this partnership, expressing how critical the intervention is in a country where 81% of the children struggle with literacy. In her words, “One Agent - One Child supports children to close the gaps, be fully educated and have employment when they leave school.”

The two-day event was a roller coaster of hope and possibility, and a sense that these carefully woven partners and skills development innovations could be a formula that would prove change at scale can happen. As Paul Swainson aptly put it, “We have evolved from Synergy contact centre to Nutun CX, retaining the very best of Synergy and then adding even more dimension to it.

This evolution, full of purpose and potential, positions us as a sophisticated, world-class CX brand that supports its agents, delivers for clients and gives back to communities.”


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