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SA job-seekers portal eyes expansion after R20m funding


Online portal for entry-level job-seekers, BoostMe360, plans a national rollout after receiving a R20 million investment from the Department of International Development in the UK.

Founded in May by academic publishing organisation, Pearson South Africa, BoostMe360 is an online job and skills development platform that connects SME employers with potential entry-level employees, who are located nearby.

BoostMe360 targets Western Cape-based unemployed youth.

The portal, which targets Western Cape-based unemployed youth and job-seekers, is currently in pilot phase and plans to inject the funding into its nation-wide expansion, planned for 2019.

To improve their chance of finding a job, the platform offers job-seekers career guidance and access to training content through free e-learning modules, aimed at helping them improve their soft skills.

"BoostMe360 is a Pearson Education initiative aimed at linking employers with potential candidates. It is a good fit for owners of SMEs, who have limited capacity and sometimes limited knowledge of hiring processes," says Carolynne Lengfeld, project director for BoostMe360.

"It is a cost-effective and easy way to find available entry-level staff located near prospective employers and possess the qualities they are searching for."

In addition to expansion, the funding, according to the company, will be used for Web site and platform building, piloting and testing of the site, and creation and deployment of the training course content BoostMe360 provides to its members.

BoostMe360's other key funder is Pearson UK, which financially supports the project on a 'like to like' basis. A few months ago, the company committed R20 million in funding, which was used for market research and further development of the platform. Around 80% of costs incurred have been accrued through the technical development of the project, notes BoostMe360.

"We have chosen the incremental regional rollout of the project as the pilot phase involves thorough one-on-one facilitation, to ensure users are able to access the most benefits possible," explains Dr Warren Moollan, executive director of product and business development at Pearson SA.

"This targeted process includes staff members physically visiting communities and relevant centres, to guide new members through the registration and use process. We aim to have completed full nationwide roll-out of BoostMe360 by the end of 2019."

There are currently around 700 unemployed youth and job-seekers registered on the platform.

To register, job-seekers complete a personalised profile, including a short video or audio clip introducing themselves to prospective employers.

"Employers are able to customise the filters to match the required skills and interests of the job posting. If there is an interested prospective employer, potential candidates receive an SMS, e-mail and profile notification to be interviewed. Should they go on to be hired, they earn additional points against their profile on the platform, as their employer rates their job performance," Moollan points out.

"So far, we have successfully managed to place youth within various industries, including business process outsourcing and hospitality," adds Lengfeld.

"One of our first placements is a single mother from Khayelitsha, who has in a relatively short period of time experienced the benefits of being part of the BoostMe360 youth community through training new hires for a well-known fast food chain."

The portal says it hopes to partner with various other similar and likeminded organisations, which already have access to its target markets.

"We do not see other organisations in this field as competitors, as this is not a revenue-generating undertaking for Pearson. We rather approach the industry from a partnership basis, as we are collectively committed to the same ultimate goals of transformation and tackling unemployment across SA."



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