CapeNature and the Department of Environmental Affairs celebrated its successful first year of the Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme. The initiative saw 110 youth participants graduating.
Together both entities aim to address the ever-growing challenges of youth unemployment and prioritise local communities living in and adjacent to the nature reserves across the Western Cape. The funding of the programme by the Department of Environmental Affairs will empower 272 youths over 2 years from communities in dire need.
The YES Programme objectives include that of skills development through acquiring 120 credits from the scarce skills courses identified, local economic development for services and procurement related to the programme and community service interventions.
CapeNature CEO Dr Razeena Omar, who is a strong advocate for education, highlighted the educational aspect of the programme by reciting the late former South African President, Nelson Mandela’s quote “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”. Omar thanked graduates for completing their respective courses, and urged them to each carry the torch further.
Along with successful partnerships with the Wildlife and Environment of South Africa (WESSA), Benchmark, Nedbank and Old Mutual, the graduates have been catapulted in positions within the environment and the tourism sector, construction and hospitality industries.
Gender equality in the workplace remains one of the top priorities for CapeNature. Dr Omar adds: “This particular programme affirms our commitment to promote the education of women, in that 64 out of the 110 graduates are women.” The programme which is run by the People and Conservation component of CapeNature includes skills development in Natural Resource Guardianship, Community House Building, Tourism Guiding and New Venture Creation and Assistant Chef training.
CapeNature’s People and Conservation General Manager, Melikhaya Pantsi says the programme has unlocked the doors; the youth needs to open these doors.
CapeNature cares about communities and this programme has given us an opportunity to place practice into communities where the youth participants come from. Our component believes very strongly in youth development as part of the conservation work we do. The young people in the programme were exposed to career exhibitions by different institutions of higher learning, experiential learning at different places of work.
CapeNature is a public institution mandated to promote and ensure biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape. The entity manages most of the mountain catchments and reserves that supply ecosystem services to the citizens of the Western Cape. This requires good scientific data, a sound understanding of fynbos ecology and commitment to the principles of integrated biodiversity management and planning. Much of these efforts are in remote areas out of the public eye, but have a direct bearing on the quality of life of millions of people in the province.