MARBLE HALL – The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Maggie Sotyu, described the success of the Youth Environmental Services (YES) as one that would go a long way in addressing youth unemployment in the country.

Deputy Minister Sotyu was speaking during graduation ceremony of the YES progamme beneficiaries of Sekhukhune TVET College held in Marble Hall last Thursday.

Sotyu said mentioned the growth in the number of unemployed youth as one of the greatest challenges faced in the country.

The deputy ministers informed that more than half of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 years-old remained unemployed.

Through the YES initiative, the department exposes unemployed and disadvantaged youths aged between ages of 18 and35 years-old 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 Programe (EPIP) and involves young people in activities that provide environmental service which benefit the community, while providing the opportunity to develop skills through accredited training programmes. It prioritises young women, youth with disabilities, unemployed, in rural areas, those at risk, heading households, in conflict with the law, those abusing dependency on drugs and alcohol and ones 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 Sotyu.

She pointed out that the department had so far invested more than R200 million to empower young South African through the YES programme over a period of three years.

The 124 youth that graduated in Marble Hall are part of a target of more than 2300 youth who participated in the second phase of the YES programme.

The graduates from Sekhukhune and Capricorn 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.

According to the department it 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, the group was the first participants to receive an allowance. The monthly stipend has been based on the premise that the department needed to work for the environment.

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

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