Nov 2022 1st Edition

Positions available for more than 1 000 graduates

Written by Allison Cooper

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is calling unemployed young graduates to apply for its two-year training and mentorship programme.Lizeka Gqumani is a beneficiary of the SANBI Groen Sebenza Programme.

According to Vivian Malema, the Director of Biodiversity Education and Public Engagement at SANBI, the Groen Sebenza (GS) Phase II Programme aims to recruit 1 050 graduates, from diploma to PhD level, and place them nationally in different government and non-governmental organisations.

Following placement, they will be trained and mentored to develop their competence in managing biodiversity and the environment.

“The programme aims to create jobs for young people, aged 18 to 35. In GS Phase I, more than 600 permanent jobs were created,” says Malema.

Making a difference

GS Phase I was launched in 2013, following SANBI’s successful proposal to the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s Jobs Fund. SANBI Senior Environmental Education Officer Lizeka Gqumani (31), who works at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, heard about the programme and applied.

At the time, she had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Botany and Microbiology and an Honours degree in Botany from the University of Zululand.

After being accepted, she worked at an environmental education centre at SANBI’s KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden.

She says she gained a great deal of knowledge about biodiversity and the environmental sector and was taught how to develop resources, work with stakeholders and organise activities and events, among others.

As there was a permanent position available at her workplace when her contract ended, she applied and was permanently appointed.

“The transition felt natural. It was the perfect next step from GS. Instead of learning and assisting, I also had the responsibility to coordinate the implementation of the programmes I was involved in during GS,” she says.

“Was I ready and prepared for this tough challenge? Certainly! The GS journey provided the necessary skills that I have been using throughout my career,” she says.

Gqumani later joined the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa as a project coordinator, before returning to work for SANBI.

“The programme saved me from being unemployed and was a kickstart. The stipend was more than decent and I was able to take care of myself and also send money home,” she adds.

How to apply

To apply to the programme, visit SANBI’s website at and click on the organisation you would like to apply to.

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