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Training for unemployed youth

A learnership programme is giving new opportunities for 50 mainly unemployed youth from Kayamandi and Cloetesville.

Hillary Bergstedt, the programme coordinator, says she was concerned about the number of unemployed young people.

“I saw how they literally sit on the streets every day,” she says. “The number of kids who don’t complete matric concerned me, and even those who do complete matric struggle to find employment. I did some research and came across the learnerships from the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA).”

Bergstedt approached the NGO Rudnet to help access the funds from national government, and decided to divide the number of learnerships between residents of Kayamandi (who receive their training in English) and Cloetesville (who receive theirs in Afrikaans).

“They all come from previously disadvantaged communities,” she pointed out. “The skills they are learning here are getting scarcer.”

Participants learn a bit of everything relating to construction, including plumbing, carpentry and electrical work.

About 70% of the training consists of practical work, while 30% is theoretical. A further 25 trainees will start the programme in Stellenbosch in May, and 25 will do it in Wellington. The programme is being presented at Rietenbosch Primary School, a venue principal Roy van Rooyen has graciously given over for this purpose.

Bergstedt says local councillor Donovan Joubert has also helped acquire equipment for the project as well as NGO Stellenbosch Safe House, which provides food for the Cloetesville learners every day. “After all, one can’t study on an empty stomach,” says Bergstedt.

She is grateful to everyone who has helped with the project thus far, although she says it still has some challenges. “I would like to encourage the local community, businesses and organisations to get involved in the project,” Bergstedt says.

The training does not have to end after the year-long programme is completed. If the trainees are successful they can train further to become fully qualified carpenters, electricians or plumbers.

The project means a new start for Audrey Michaels (28) from Cloetesville, after being addicted to drugs and unemployed for 11 years.

“I turned my life around from July last year and heard about this project in December,” she says. “I wanted to start over and make something of myself.”

. For more information about the training programme, or to find out how one can become involved in the project, email Bergstedt on hillarybergstedt@gmail.com.

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