In October 2023, the Department of Infrastructure (DOI) welcomed 170 learners to its 15th annual National Youth Service (NYS) intake. Participants were drawn from the Central Karoo, Garden Route, West Coast and Cape Winelands districts, as well as the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality. The NYS is part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), a national programme whose Western Cape activities are coordinated by the DOI.

The Department’s NYS team spoke to excited participants about their expectations and their responsibilities during induction at venues around the province in the 2nd and 3rd week of October.

EPWP’s Ferdie Jacobs says that the main objective of the NYS programme is to address the critical challenge of youth unemployment.

“South Africa is faced with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality,” says Jacobs.

“By providing accredited trade-related skills development training, this programme intends to make unemployed youth more employable or to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to start their own business.”

The National Youth Service is a 12-month programme for youth aged between 18 and 30 living in the Western Cape which comprises classroom/ theoretical training, practical simulation, and experiential learning.

During the experiential phase, which makes up between 60 and 70% of the course, learners will be placed with a host employer for 7 to 8 months in order to gain valuable work experience in a particular trade. Those learners who successfully complete the training course will receive an accredited trade qualification.

“All training costs will be fully funded by the Department of Infrastructure. Each learner will receive a stipend of R2 500 per month during the 12-month course period, as well as an accommodation/ transport allowance of R2 000 per month,” says Jacobs.

The Department also provides personal protective equipment (safety boots and overalls) and a toolbox to each NYS participant.

This career-building opportunity forms part of the Western Cape Government’s Growth for Jobs (G4J) strategy which, among other goals, aims to improve job prospects for learners, entrepreneurs and aspirant job seekers.

Ashwin Ruiters from Gouda completed the NYS electrical learnership at the end of 2022. He worked in the private sector after the learnership and is now employed at the Drakenstein Local Municipality.

“The learnership was really helpful in my job where I am now permanently employed as an electrical attendant, not far from what I really want to be – an electrician,” he said.

“I learnt a lot on site during the practical part of the training because on site we were physically busy with our hands and working with tools. The theory was also interesting with some lectures leading to debates between learners in class. To work on site you must understand your theory before you can do your practical.”