ILO Skills Challenge Innovation Call

The Domestic Worker Center

The Domestic Worker Centre, an initiative of the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe, won the 1st ILO Skills Challenge Innovation Call for a proposal to provide specialist training in modern domestic skills to improve workers’ employability.

Web page | 30 July 2020

Initiative’s name: Domestic Worker Center
Organization: Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe (DWAZ)
Country: Zimbabwe

The problem:

Domestic work is one of the oldest and most important occupations in many countries. There are an estimated 63 million domestic workers worldwide with over 80% being women. Still considered as an informal sector, there was a complete and detrimental lack of a systematic and dedicated attention towards representation, training and skills development, capacity building and professionalism and this state of affairs has not been kind on the existence and livelihoods of domestic workers. Poverty, exploitation and abuse, poor wages and salaries, difficulties securing employment and high incidences of job loss due to lack of training and consequently poor performance, insufficient and inappropriate legal coverage, long working hours, are only a tip of the iceberg in the discussion of challenges facing this sector. 

The solution:

The Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe proposes to empower domestic workers with skills that respond to their current working world.

With the objective of producing and providing professional domestic workers who not only get the job, but get the job done, the Domestic Worker Center is an innovative idea, the first of its kind conceived with a unique focus on domestic workers and the domestic work profession. To stamp their footprint in the arena of formalization and professionalism, their solution runs on what we are calling tripartite parallel phases (TRIPP) approach, which means having 3 independent but interlinked sections of the project running.
  • Physical approach: The Domestic Workers Center
Envisioned for establishment, is a facility which will offer a comprehensive service package under one roof, whose premises are designed and furnished to resemble the modern day home, the perfect work environment for domestic workers. Central to its existence is the need to provide crucial but lacking on-the-job learning and training for domestic workers, offering an experience which will ensure that all who are trained will be capacitated to match the requirements and expectations of their work as employees. Here, theory and practice will be conveniently fused to address crucial aspects of a domestic worker`s job description such as cookery, baking, housekeeping, grooming and etiquette, gardening as well as child minding in the home. The center will also offer a number of soft skills training to include emotional Intelligence. The learning center will be an adequately and modernly furnished and resourced space, with stoves, cooking utensils, baking utensils, food stuff for cooking and baking, as well as gardening and landscaping, safety and safe use and maintenance of tools and machinery relevant to the work.
  • Vocational approach: Vocational Training Centers
As part of the solution,  a curriculum, tailored for the domestic work sector will be developed to be accredited as an official course under HEXCO, recognized by the Ministry of Education and offered through vocational training centers. Zimbawe has 7 provinces and all these provinces have Vocational Centres which total to 43. Oftentimes, domestic workers are recruited from rural areas. These vocational training centers are going to pave way for the extension of our reach into the rural areas of Zimbabwe where they service local communities. the curriculum will include both housekeepers and gardeners. Once trained ,they will go for practical training at the centre and also we will assist them with job placements.
  • Online Approach:
Convenience and scale is a major drive in the proposed solution embedding information communication technology through the internet in learning and training. Thus an online platform which mirrors the physical Center is envisioned. Here, domestic workers from any part of the country, the continent and part of the globe can benefit from the services offered. Since the plight of domestic workers exists as a global challenge, it is important to step up interventions to the same level for meaningful impact in the long run. It will assist in reaching our members in Botswana and South Africa with no access to the centre or vocational centres.

Combined, these approaches will identically zero in on personal and professional development of domestic workers such that they will be able to break through the glass wall and become marketable across the board, being able to meet the requirements and expectations of different classes of employers. This development will significantly contribute the ultimate agenda of formalization of the domestic work sector, widening the base of employment opportunities and also directly and positively influence remuneration as domestic workers can leverage their training and experience for better wage and/or salary packages.

In addition, the Center is also going to be a safe haven for domestic workers who may find themselves in desperate situations and circumstances where they have no one to turn to for assistance. Domestic workers are vulnerable and they may fall victim to different forms of abuse, exploitation and mistreatment, thus necessitating the establishment of a safe place where they can be accommodated and assisted accordingly.

Now a dawning reality, made possible by the ILO Skills Challenge innovation grant. The DWC is the perfect breakthrough for all domestic workers nationwide and worldwide to be recognized, respected and appreciated for their roles in their families and society."

Mendy Lerato Lusaba, Founder of the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe