Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries congratulates Youth Environmental Services graduates

08 August 2019

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Maggie Sotyu, says the success of the Youth Environmental Services (YES) programme will go a long way to addressing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony at Sekhukhune TVET College in Marble Hall, Deputy Minister Sotyu, said “One of the greatest challenges we have is the growing number of unemployed youth in our country”

More than half of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. 

Through the Youth Environmental Service (YES) initiative, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, expose unemployed and disadvantaged youths aged between of 18 and 35 years to work-integrated learning opportunities in the natural resource and environmental management sectors.

The programme is implemented by the Department’s Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP) and involves young people in activities which provide environmental service that benefit the community, while providing the opportunity to develop skills through accredited training programmes. It 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,” said the Deputy Minister.

Ms Sotyu pointed out that the Department has so far invested more than R200 million to empower young South Africans through the YES programme over a period of three years. 

The 124 youth that graduated from the Sekhukhune TVET College in Marble Hall are part of a target of more than 2 300 young people who participated in the second phase of the YES programme. 

The graduates from the Capricorn and Sekhukhune District Municipalities were trained over a year in clothing, textile, footwear and leather manufacturing processes, as well as Occupational Health and Safety, first aid training and health and safety in the environment.  

The Department had invested R11 million in the training programme, of which R4 million was allocated for the payment of wages over the past year.  As a service and skills development initiative, this was the first group of participating youths in the YES programmes to receive an allowance. The 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.

Ms Sotyu said as a developing country, South Africa needs a lot of skilled people to grow the 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 programme, but also aid with exit opportunities and personal development – all while contributing to the reconstruction of our beautiful country,”  she said.

The students received NQF Level 2 certificates and a sewing machine.

» Access a copy of the speech here

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