BEE & Affirmative Action – Monumental Fail

I have, to all intents and purposes, been unemployed since the beginning of 2006. Naturally, I’ve not just sat around and moped – I’ve walked around quite a lot too. During my job search period, I’ve attended 64 interviews with 61 rejections. Of those, 58 have been directly based on the colour of my skin. I have now (arrogantly, I concede) nominated myself as a world authority on rejections.

I hasten to add that I am not in any way unique. There are literally hundreds and thousands of white males on the wrong side of 45 (in my case 50) who are brimming with experience and qualifications and who have an enormous lot to offer industry.

But amongst the chief rubbers of salt into the unemployment wounds are those poxy recruitment companies who lack the courtesy to acknowledge one’s application. Moreover, these are the morons who insist on mailing you with allegedly available positions – many of them obsolete (like my skills, apparently).

A most convenient example is an application I sent to Abacus Recruitment (Johannesburg) on 19th May 2010. I also made two telephone calls, one before and one after my email requesting that the relevant recruiting officer kindly contact me regarding a request for further information. Needless to say, no email and no telephone calls have been received to date. Will I follow up? No, if I had to do that to every one of the 400 odd applications I’ve sent out, my telephone account would equal Zimbabwe’s national debt.

Now here’s another side of this much devalued coin.

Someone of my acquaintance, who works in the telecommunications industry, told me of yet another way in which this BEE BS is negatively impacting the economy.

Eleven people from their department were put on training for a certain piece of networking equipment. The cost of this course is approximately R20 000 per delegate – including exams.

During one of the practical sessions, it became painfully apparent that at least two of the delegates did not have an inkling of the very fundamentals of networking theory (a pre-requisite for employment in this company, mark you). The result was that the whole class was kept back while an attempt was made to assist these people, and the course ended before the entire syllabus could be completely covered – putting the rest of the delegates at a disadvantage.

As a consequence, the two delegates (who were evidently employed primarily on their BEE status) were extremely demoralised at their inability to keep up with their colleagues, as were the rest of the delegates might have to repeat the course in order to be fully prepared for the exam.

So let us examine the cost:

Normal cost to company BEE-biased cost to company
11 people x R20k = R220 000 for course 11 people x R20k x 2 (repeat course) = R440 000
1 week of time away for 11 people 2 weeks of time away for 11 people
Team more cohesive Team more fragmented
Higher morale Lower morale
Team better equipped to execute  tasks Team remains essentially the same
Customer service levels rise Customer service levels remain unchanged or drop
Customers stay and increase Customers leave for competition
Company’s revenue rises – possible job creation Company’s revenue declines – resulting in job losses

Now, I’m all for redressing the inequalities of the past – but how stupid do you have to be to doggedly pursue a policy that all but those who dribble excessively and/or occupy government positions concede is plainly not working? I guess that level which says a shower and beetroot prevents/cures HIV.

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About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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