The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has launched the Lesedi Skills Development Academy in Atlantis in the Western Cape to give youth from the area a better chance in the job market.
“Government is aware that skills development in the past was limited to the minority and the majority of the people had less access, yet it is a critical requirement for the majority to get jobs. This is the reason every time we engage with business, we insist on skills development which is non-negotiable for all.
“To underpin the importance of skills development government launched the Youth Empowerment Service (YES) Programme. This programme aims to improve the grim employment outlook for young job seekers by offering work opportunities and therefore inclusion in the economy,” said Minister Davies at the launch on Tuesday.
Minister Davies indicated that business agreed to partner and create 300 000 internships per year for the unemployed youth for the next three years.
“Every bit counts as a means to address the issue of skills development and unemployment. We therefore cannot compromise if we need more people to participate meaningfully in the economy. The skills that the academy develops will assist the Atlantis people to tap into the proposed Atlantis Special Economic Zone [SEZ] amongst others. The SEZ is anticipated to be designated by the end of 2018,” said the Minister.
The academy was established to address the need for skilled artisans and to close the skills gap in the nuclear and broader energy sector as well as associated industries.
Chief Executive Officer of Lesedi, Francis Carruther, said to date, the academy has employed 35 learners, who are at various stages of training within their respective programme. He said 33 of these learners are from Atlantis.
Lesedi was established in 2015 to address challenges in providing skilled artisans with appropriate training and qualifications to meet the ability to execute projects. The learners engaged with apprenticeship, learnerships and short skills programs among others.
Viable township economies
Speaking at an Industrial Breakfast Session earlier in the day, Minister Davies said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has been working on creating viable rural and township economies.
The objective of the session held in Atlantis was to create a platform for collaboration between the public and the private sector in developing support mechanisms for the rural and township economy.
The Minister said programmes such as the revitalization of Industrial Parks and the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Programme are enablers to drive the economy and create sustainable jobs.
He said Atlantis is on the right track to be designated as an SEZ and also take a lead in the renewable energy space.
“Between 2014 to 2016, Atlantis attracted investment of about R680 million from both local and international investments which has led to jobs in the wind, solar energy efficiency and in other technologies created,” said Minister Davies.
He said the SEZ would have attracted investments worth R3.7 billion by 2030 and this excludes gas to power and other sectors. More than 20 investors have shown significant interest in the zone and ongoing engagement facilitated.
SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities. The Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks Programme is run by the dti.