Addressing a think-tank on youth skills development, job creation and unemployment, Estelle Jacobs, the HCET’s project manager, said this was essential in order to help graduates choose a career and deal with unfamiliar challenges and pressures.
The think-tank was organised by the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre, and held in Cape Town in July. It was attended by education experts, development practitioners and representatives of funding agencies.
Introducing the think-tank, Rhoda Kadalie, Impumelelo’s executive director, said there was cause for great concern about South Africa’s youth. The education system was deteriorating. About three million youths were unemployed, poorly educated and poorly skilled. Impumelelo wanted to hear from organisations which had achieved some success in getting youths into employment, and could therefore provide pointers to how these trends could be reversed.
Estelle said the Trust placed learners in three broad groups. The first comprised learners who were capable of getting good matric passes and advancing to tertiary education or advanced skills training. The Trust took them to Bloemfontein for aptitude tests – which state schools no longer offered – and helped them decide on a field of study. Many of them were given bursaries.
Following this, their progress was tracked on a monthly basis. ‘So we retain close ties with these students. When they have a problem we encourage them to phone us. Among other things, peer pressure is a major problem for children from the rural areas in particular. We motivate them, support them, counsel them, and try to give them the life skills they did not necessarily get at home.’
The second group comprised children with poor matrics who could not get into an FET college or tertiary institutions. These youths were directed to skills a programme, currently comprising auxiliary social worker course and a one-year hospitality services course at a dedicated Trust facility in Colesberg.
Some Grade 9 graduates were taken on as ECD interns, and sent for formal training. After completing their courses, the Trust sought to place them in other ECD centres.
The third group comprised children with learning barriers, often because of foetal alcohol syndrome and other family problems. Placing them in jobs they were capable of doing required an intimate knowledge of these learners and their abilities. Some did shadow work on farms. Many lacked self-confidence, and needed to be guided and mentored.