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MEC Weziwe Thusi - Enhancing Skills Development Initiatives

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi launched a learnership programme in partnership with the Services SETA in February 2018. Over 500 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the province will benefit from the programme.

MEC Thusi said that the programme will go a long way towards enhancing skills development initiatives and provide behaviour change support to youth.

Prior to this project, the Department offered skills development opportunities to 292 youths annually, 200 in the Youth Development academies and 92 through the internship programme. Following the engagement with Department of Higher Education and Training in 2014, the Service SETA partnership came to fruition. This initiative with the Services SETA has allowed the department to more than double this number with 1000 learnerships worth R36 million in the first cycle.

Learnerships are a result of efforts by the democratic government to put in place structures to transform skills development. They were created primarily to address the gap between education and training and the needs of the labour market and the challenges created by unequal access to education.

The structured learning programmes combines theoretical and practical workplace experiential learning over a 12-month period which lead to an occupationally-related qualification registered on the National
Qualification Framework.

Each learnership is worth R36 000, a monthly stipend of R1 500 is paid directly to the beneficiary. The 550 learnerships, namely cleaning and hygiene (300) or administration and management (250), have been allocated to the following districts: Umgungundlovu, Durban South, iLembe, Amajuba, uMkhanyakude,
Zululand and Ugu.

Nombuso Mthembu says that since she started this programme it has helped her to provide financially for her five siblings.

"It is so good to study. This programme has helped me a lot. We get a stipend and it has gone a long way for me and my family. I stay with my grandmother. We don't have any source of income. But with this programme things are much better."

Philane Ntuli, from Dannhauser, says when he completed matric four years ago he could not complete his studies due to the lack of income. Ntuli who is being trained as an office clerk says through this programme he has been able to get his driver's licence with the stipend he receives.

"We can educate ourselves and also be available to care and contribute in our families. I'm also doing my driver's license now. It's amazing."

Primary Focus
"Our primary focus as the Department of Social Development is to ensure that young people graduating from the Learnership Programme are well-rounded individuals with high levels of self-esteem, high moral values and respect for the constitutional principles," said MEC Thusi.

The Department is exploring opportunities to ensure that youths exit the learnerships into income generating opportunities. One of the proposals being considered is the establishment of cooperatives for young people who successfully complete this project. The Department will then enter into agreements with these cooperatives to provide cleaning services to the Department.

(Acknowledgement: Nonjabula
Mntungwa @SABCNewsOnline)

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