Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Maggie Sotyu, congratulates Youth Environmental Services graduates
Mayor Molaudi Mothogoane of the Ephraim Mogale Local Municipality
Representatives of the Lepelle Nkumpi Local Municipality
Prof Maria Kanjere, chair of the council of the Sekhukhune TVET College
The Principal of the Sekhukhune TVET College, Mr TJ Kekana
Senior TVET College officials
Senior representatives of the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Seta
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to be here in the Ephraim Mogale local municipality to celebrate a milestone in the lives of a group of young people.
Today we celebrate with you an achievement that places you in a position to either create employment for others, be self-employed or to be able to go out into the workplace and be gainfully employed in an industry that will always require the skills you have learnt.
You are among the fortunate; the young people that will not have to stand on a street corner begging to make ends meet, or turning to drugs to deal with the daily pain of being unemployed.
Twenty-five years ago your parents joined millions of South Africans in voting for the first truly democratic government in South Africa that sought to address previous ills of apartheid. It is 25 years that have not been without their challenges. One of the greatest challenges we have is the growing number of unemployed youth in our country.
While many of you completed your schooling, some did not. Some have not been able to afford tertiary training. That is why the government has introduced a number of programmes to address the employment backlogs by skilling young people so that you are able to make an impact on our economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address, stated that the government would, as a means of addressing the youth unemployment crisis, create two million jobs for young people in the next 10 years.
More than half of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed and there is an urgent need for collaboration with the private sector to create pathways into work for young people who are prepared to learn, work hard and better themselves, the President said.
One of the initiatives launched by government to address youth unemployment has been the Youth Employment Service, through which 18 000 young people have been placed in employment opportunities in the past year. This programme also provides business infrastructure and support through its community hubs.
As a forerunner to the national programme, the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is now known as the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, established the Youth Environmental Service.
The Department’s YES initiative implemented by the Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) across the country. It is aimed at exposing unemployed and disadvantaged youths aged between of 18 and 35 years to work-integrated learning opportunities in the natural resource and environmental management sectors.
This programme is also in line with our Constitutional Mandate, which requires of us to ensure that all people who live in South Africa are able to enjoy an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, and to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
Through the Youth Environmental Service programme young people are involved in activities which provide environmental service that benefit the community, while being given the opportunity to develop their skills through accredited training programmes.
It is a programme of the Department that prioritises young women, youth with disabilities, unemployed youth, youth in rural areas, youth at risk, youth heading households, youth in conflict with the law, youth abusing dependency on drugs and alcohol and youth subjected to all forms of abuse.
While it is not a special employment programme, it is part of our government’s interventions to reduce the runaway unemployment rate, not least the National Youth Service.
As a developing country, South Africa needs a lot of skilled people so that we can grow our economy. This programme responds to the multiple needs of young people as we not only assist you to access new opportunities for employment and income generation through accredited training and skills development programmed, but also aid with exit opportunities and personal development – all while contributing to the reconstruction of our beautiful country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has so far invested more than R200 million to empower young South Africans through the Youth Environmental Service (YES) programme over a period of three years.
Young people graduating today are part of a target of more than 2 300 young people who will participate in the second phase of the YES programme.
You are part of a group of youth who have not only been empowered, but through whom, we hope, we have been able to generate greater community involvement in the protection of our environment through your engagement in environmental activities such as waste management and recycling and environmental education.
As a service and skills development initiative, you are the first group of participating youths in the YES programmes to receive an allowance. This monthly stipend has been based on the premise that we all need to work for the environment in order to have the environment work for us and the future generations.
I understand that you were enrolled for a year-long programme here at the Sekhukhune TVET in Marble Hall where you received training in clothing, textile, footwear and leather manufacturing processes. You are the first group to graduate with NQF Level 2 certificates. I believe that you all come from the Capricorn and Sekhukhune Districts Municipalities and that besides being trained in clothing, textile, footwear and leather manufacturing, you have also been trained in Occupational Health and Safety, received first aid training, learnt about access to, and the use of, information and health and safety in the environment. We have invested R11 million in your training – R4 million in the payment of wages over the past year, R3 million for training and the remainder on, for example, transport, community facilitation, materials and equipment.
I am sure that you are also excited to be receiving sewing machines to assist in your future endeavours.
I hope that you will be as successful as the first group of students who graduated in the Free State in 2018, of whom nine have established their own businesses, four are employed by Dzunisani Consultants and four have found work opportunities in the retail sector.
As young people you hold the future of our country in your hands. You are our future leaders. I hope that through all you have learnt in the past year you are ready to make a meaningful contribution to society, to the economy and to the growth of our country.
Congratulations once again on your wonderful achievement.
I thank you.