Monday, May 20

Entire industry must work from the bottom up to transform

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Yipa has teamed up with the Western Cape Property Development Forum to provide underprivileged pupils with the opportunity to shadow Cape Town property professionals.

Transformation of the property industry is “taking too long” and a new approach has been launched. This is according to Dacre Hattingh, a development manager with the Eris Property Group and convenor of a job shadow programme organised by the Youth in Property Association (Yipa).

Part of the reason for slow transformation, he says, is the industry has been trying to change itself from the top down. “We’ve been focusing on those previously disadvantaged individuals who have already made it into the sector. However, there are not enough black professionals coming into it in the first place to have much of a meaningful impact on transformation.”

What is needed is for the industry to work from “the bottom up” and expose high school pupils to it when they are considering their career or tertiary education options, Hattingh says. Yipa has teamed up with the Western Cape Property Development Forum to provide underprivileged pupils with the opportunity to shadow Cape Town property professionals.

“By positively influencing pupils, we can encourage them to look past the bricks and mortar to see the engine room that creates and maintains property assets.” The first two programmes, run in October last year and April this year, saw a total of 38 pupils from Khayelitsha schools working with several of the most prominent property companies in the Western Cape.

The experience was eye-opening on all fronts, says Hattingh. The students were “mostly oblivious to fundamental property concepts we take for granted”. “For instance, property rental was a seemingly foreign concept as they assumed every occupier of a property owned it,” Hattingh says.

This was one of the surprising discoveries made by property professionals. And there were others. “Several of the participating companies had their eyes opened to the
difficulties the pupils have had to deal with at such a young age, especially growing up in an area like Khayelitsha.

“I think this awareness helps highlight the unusual dichotomy that South Africa finds itself in, where we almost have two separate worlds coexisting.” The experience has enabled the participating property companies to better understand the lives and circumstances in which these pupils live, and it helped them realise the serious and dire need for affordable housing in South Africa.

Hattingh says the initiative is “breaking barriers on both sides” by highlighting the plight of many South Africans while providing a glimpse into the real business world of the
property sector. The Western Cape Property Developer’s Forum chair, Deon van Zyl, says taking part in the first two job shadow events had left him humbled by the tenacity and drive of the young participants.

Van Zyl, a director at Alwyn Laubscher & Associates, says: “I have also realised how little time our industry spends on really understanding the needs and wants of the next generation. “I would like to challenge other industry bodies to follow suit and create, if they have not already done so, a job shadow programme like this one.”

Property studies

South Africa’s property studies degree is “extremely untransformed”, says Yipa chairperson Monedi Lefakane. He says this is the reason why the association was established.
In 2016, only 13 of the 146 students enrolled for the degree were black.
“We identified this was among the core reasons why the property sector as a whole is untransformed. Young black people are unaware of property as a career and entrepreneurial route.”
The job-shadowing partnership with the Western Cape Property Developers Forum and the UCT100UP programme enables Yipa to expose students to the industry before they leave high school, in order to grow skilled labour and create an entrepreneurial pool for this sector, Lefakane says.
Yipa chairperson Monedi Lefakane. Picture: Supplied

Getting involved in the future
The next Yipa job shadow programme will take place on October 3 and October 4, says WC Property Developer’s Forum chair, Deon van Zyl. He is calling all Cape Town-based
property companies to consider becoming involved.
“The property development process is complex and technical. Those involved tend to forget the multi-faceted nature of our industry and how we ourselves entered this world in the first place.”
Programme convenor Dacre Hattingh says: “Pupils who have gone through the programme are now in a position where property development can potentially be viewed as a first-choice career option.
“Everything they now pursue in school can be aimed at bettering their understanding and knowledge of becoming successful in the property development industry, and help prepare them to study towards a property-related degree or diploma.”

Property companies wishing to  participate in the October job shadow programme can email Kim Kilpatrick on admin@wcpdf.co.za or call 021 461 0411.

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