The Premier’s Advancement of Youth Project
Mr Jannie van der Westhuizen, Acting Director of the Department of the Premier,
Ms Florence Rhoxo, District Director of the Eden and Karoo Education District,
Ms Beverley Barry, CEO of Learning Cape Initiative,
Western Cape Government officials,
Good morning to you all.
I am delighted to be here this morning. Many of you are unaware that I come from this neck of the woods, so it is a pleasure to get the chance to meet some of our PAY Project interns living and working in the Southern Cape.
Earlier this year, each of you were given a wonderful opportunity to take part in this work experience programme, which I sincerely hope has already taught you some very valuable skills.
You are part of a very special group of 850 people, and all eyes are on you to see how and to what extent this work experience and on-the-job-training has benefitted you.
As you all know, this project is all about creating opportunities – giving you a "leg-up" onto the work ladder.
The job climate in South Africa is a difficult one, where thousands of young people are competing every day for job opportunities and experience. The latest unemployment statistics contained in the Census 2011 indicate that the expanded unemployment rate rides at 40 percent nationally, and at 29.3 percent in the Western Cape. While we have the lowest expanded unemployment rate in the country, we still need to ensure that our policy makers, labour, business and civil society do something about the youth unemployment crisis. The Western Cape Government believes that we have a crucial role to play in providing opportunities for our young citizens, to empower and improve themselves so that they can live lives they value. Lack of practical experience is one of the main barriers to job market entry for young people. By employing young, inexperienced workers, is just one way we can open the door of economic opportunity to young people. We need an economy that expands opportunity and is geared for growth, that is why we are implementing projects such as PAY. The responsibility of our young citizens in turn is to take full advantage of projects such as this, so that they can become economically productive members of society.
In my own Department, Education, we have employed over 200 interns.
Some of them have been employed at primary schools across the Western Cape, where they are assisting our educators in the classroom, preparing demonstrations, helping with reading groups and other educational tasks. We hope that these interns are gathering valuable knowledge and skills in teaching and child-care, and will use these skills in future endeavours down the line and perhaps even take up teaching as a career.
We also have at our head office interns that perform clerical, administrative and computer work. The aim is to help them to develop their clerical, administrative, computer and planning skills.
Other interns have been extremely valuable in supporting our schools after school hours, in assisting with coaching activities and sport.
These interns are gaining new knowledge and skills, which will enable them to grow personally and be better prepared to enter the world of work or further study.
So far, all the feedback I have received about our interns has been positive.
I hear that they are a very enthusiastic bunch, very positive, and many are going above and beyond what is expected of them in eagerness to learn more.
Once their time as an intern is complete, we will be more than happy to help them develop a CV and will even consider some interns for future employment, taking into account positions available.
I hope that everyone here in the Southern Cape is having a similar positive experience in their various departments.
It is not always easy, at times the demands on you can be excessive - but the rewards are great and one day you will realise – even invaluable.
I was once an intern at a fishing factory in Port Nollath. I had applied for a Director’s job at a fishing factory, after I completed my MBA degree. However, my managing director did not want me to join his head office until I experienced first-hand what the fishing industry was all about.
In my time as an intern, I spent time on the fishing boats, sleeping in the quarters with the crew, rowing dinghies and catching and packing kreef.
While I had many great moments on that boat, at times it was not easy. It was hard work and even extremely unpleasant at times – but the rewards were great and I valued the experience.
This was especially clear to me when I began working at Head Office. I soon realised that one cannot manage effectively without understanding what one’s staff have to do on a daily basis, the challenges that they experience and how every aspect of the business operates.
It taught me the value of understanding what I was managing, and in effect that helped me confidently to take control of any aspect of the business.
All of you are learning similar lessons in life and in the workplace.
Use this time wisely; learn as much as you can, absorb all that is put in front of you.
It will one day, like me, prove to be an invaluable experience.
So congratulations to you all for being selected to join this special and exciting initiative, and a friendly welcome to our family here at the Western Cape Government.