Premier Zille Launches Skills Development and Work Experience Youth Programme
On Thursday, 3 May 2012, Premier Helen Zille launched the Premier's Advancement of Youth (PAY) Project, a skills development and work experience programme that aims to provide young people with the opportunity to gain practical workplace skills and experience within the Western Cape Government.
Driven by the Department of the Premier, in conjunction with the Cape Learning Initiative, a Special Purpose Vehicle of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the Premier described the programme as "an innovative initiative and a youth wage subsidy scheme that would give participating young people a leg up onto the lowest rung of the economic ladder."
The 850 young people participating in the PAY Project were selected from learners who matriculated in 2011 and applied for the programme. They are currently going through a week of work readiness training from 30 April to 4 May, after which they will be placed in internships in departments across the Western Cape Government for a year.
Reflecting on the recently celebrated 18th Freedom Day and noting that many of the young people in the programme were 18 themselves, Premier Zille encouraged the interns gathered for the launch to take full advantage of the learning opportunities provided by the programme: "As with any coming of age, turning 18 brings with it not only more freedom, but also real responsibility. The way to do that is by taking ownership of your future."
The Premier highlighted that 70% of the unemployed in the Western Cape are young people under the age of 35, and that there were many thousands of other youth who could appreciate and benefit from the PAY Project. "The government has a crucial role to play in providing opportunities for citizens to empower and improve themselves so that they can live lives they value. Your job is to take responsibility fully to make use of this opportunity and others that come along your way," she said.
Premier Zille shared her own experiences and perspective that would assist the interns in their careers, "I was once where you were. When I started out after finishing university, I did a secretarial course and my first job was as a secretary. My mother always taught me that you must take pride in whatever job you have and you must do your very best at it." She emphasised the value of hard work as the key to success: "A former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, once said that he lives by the saying, 'Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity', and our very own Gary Player, a talented golfer, also famously remarked, 'I find the harder I work, the luckier I get.' That is what hard work does for you; it keeps opening door after door for you and as those doors open for you, the preparation through hard work you've done before will make you ready to meet those opportunities."
The Western Cape Government recently secured R16 million of funding from national treasury's jobs fund for this project and other sustainable skills development initiatives to run over the next three years. From September 2012, the new intake for the programme will be recruited from the class of 2012 matrics who will start their internships from 1 April 2013 with the support of the district offices of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).