Johannesburg - An initiative to speed up transformation in the real estate agency sector was launched by Human Settlements Minister Connie September in Johannesburg on Thursday.

September welcomed the “One Learner - One Estate Agency” programme to transform the industry, where only 10 percent of registered estate agents are black.

“The transformation we are seeking out of this will ensure the growth and survival of this industry,” she said.

The programme sought to expedite greater participation by women, young people, and those with disabilities in the estate agent industry.

Government bodies had worked to ensure greater gender representivity, but private business needed to catch up in this regard.

“This initiative embraces that we must do our bit in the private sector to deal with the 50/50 (men:women) issue,” September said.

The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) identified the programme as an effective means to ensure that the representivity in the industry moved closer to the demographics of the country.

The programme aimed to have the 10,000 estate agency enterprises each commit to train, mentor and retain at least one previously disadvantaged person as an estate agent over the next three years.

Twenty estate agency firms had so far pledged support for the programme, which would collectively absorb 750 recruits.

September said the industry needed to face the fact the majority of people in the sector were nearing retirement age.

“There is a dire need to bring in very many young people.”

She said monitoring and evaluation of the programme would be conducted.

“This is important to gauge how we are progressing and how we are moving forward.”

To succeed, the project would need the commitment of estate agencies, as well as robust coaching and mentorship of interns.

The recruits would need to sit NQF 4 (level four real estate qualification) board exams in their one year internship.

As they would not receive basic salaries, they could receive stipends.

Recruits could also study further and sit a second board exam (professional designation examination four) to achieve professional status.

Services Seta CEO Hannes Mouton said the details of funding were being worked out, but had been partially budgeted for already.