Cape Town cultivates environmental job opportunities for youth

Graduate Thurlo Marco, Gantouw Project eland monitor

This successful initiative is being celebrated in light of Youth Day as an example of the City’s commitment to promoting economic inclusion among young people. 

A total of 60 young people from previously disadvantaged communities have been equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to enter the green economy with confidence, thanks to the accredited environmental learnerships on offer by the City of Cape Town in partnership with the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust. 
 
In celebration of Youth Day, the City’s Environment Management Department is proud to be partnering with the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) to offer environmental learnerships, which equip graduates with the necessary qualifications to access entry-level jobs in the green economy with a focus on nature conservation.
 
Since 2014 there have been 60 graduates from the various environmental-related learnership programmes with National Qualifications Framework (NFQ) levels between 2 and 5. Most of these are young people between the ages of 18 and 35 from previously disadvantaged communities.
 
During the 12-month learnership programme, students receive accredited, work-based training and are placed at the City’s nature reserves where they are mentored by City staff and enjoy experiential learning. In addition to their accredited training, CTEET also provides a variety of job-readiness training courses such as first-aid, driving licence training, and chainsaw and brush-cutter operation training.
 
Most recently, a partnership between the City, CTEET, the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority, and the Table Mountain Fund enabled the running of an Environmental Practices (NQF Level 4) learnership from May 2016, through the training provider Elgin Community College. From this class, 10 out of 13 students had already secured jobs before their graduation.
 
Graduate Ntombiziphi Rafu, who completed the Nature Conservation NQF Level 2 learnership in 2015 and the Environmental Practices learnership in 2016, is working as a permanent field ranger at the Steenbras Nature Reserve. 
 
‘I was on two learnerships and my life really changed. I am so proud of myself that I made it this far. Because of the learnership, I was interviewed for the post that I have today,’ said Ms Rafu.
 
Graduate Thurlo Marco, 23, from Grassy Park, who is a Gantouw Project eland monitor, said: ‘It was a great stepping stone – just what I needed to guide my journey as a conservationist’. (See photo above)
 
Graduate Melvin Booysen, 22, from Cassablanca in Strand is a field ranger at the Harmony Flats Nature Reserve. He said: ‘I feel so good to be in nature conservation because I can give back to the community through environmental education and change their mind-set’.
 
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron, said the City is very proud to be investing in the lives of our youth through these learnerships.
 
‘These learnerships are opportunities for students to develop holistically. When they graduate, they are equipped and empowered with accredited knowledge, the necessary skills, and have the hands-on experience needed to enter into the green economy with confidence. Having work experience gives graduates an edge over others when applying for jobs and I am very happy that our nature reserve staff are actively involved in mentoring the students. Furthermore, it is very exciting that our students are securing employment even before their graduation, which is testament to the calibre of the learnerships.
 
‘These learnerships are shining examples of the City’s efforts to promote economic inclusion – a transformational priority in the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan – through supporting skills development initiatives and investing in programmes that will provide longer-term employment,’ said Councillor Herron.
 
Learnership opportunities are advertised via the subcouncils, on CTEET’s website, on social media platforms, and are distributed through the City’s Biodiversity Management Branch network. Applicants need to have a passion for the natural environment and have at least passed Grade 9, but a matric certificate is preferred, among others.
 
The next programme, the Nature Conservation: Resource Guardianship (NQF2) learnership, starts in July for 25 students.