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PREPARING YOUTH FOR THE FUTURE

Growing up in informal settlements in the Ekurhuleni area has not prevented a group of young people from developing their skills. The training they got from a local hotel has made a huge difference in their lives. They can use their new skills during the 2010 World Cup and into the future.

In the spirit of the 2010 World Cup, the Boksburg-based Birchwood Hotel and the OR Tambo Conference Centre has been training young matriculants in various skills. These range from hospitality to information technology.

The hotel worked in co-operation with the Department of Labour's Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

Invest in the youth

The youths are from the informal settlements of Ulana, Kanan, Angelo, Jerusalem and Delmore in the Ekurhuleni metropolitan area. Together these settlements are known as Ukajede.

"Instead of complaining about crime and doing nothing, as a hotel group we made a decision that we would invest in educating young people," said Ukajede Project co-ordinator Thomas Klein.

"We did this because we were fully aware that some of the social problems, such as the high crime rate, are due to a lack good education and skills," he said.

Créche

"The hotel wants to make a difference in the lives of young learners by providing them with skills and a proper learning environment to prepare them for the future," Klein said.

They also run créche projects for small children, and have funded the school fees of some matriculants. Some of the learners are now working at the hotel in jobs like receptionists, guest relations and waitering.

This is not only helping the youths with jobs and new skills, but also benefits the hotel as it provides them with trained staff.

In anticipation of more people visiting our country for the 2010 World Cup, it will give the youths the necessary experience to find jobs in the tourism industry.

Learnership

One of the learners is 21-year old Marcelo Modise. He is a computer science student in his second year of study. He is now doing a learnership with the information technology department of the hotel. This is done with the help of the Information Systems, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies (ISETT) Seta.

"The learnership at the hotel has helped me a lot in my computer studies as I am able to practice what I am being taught at college," Modise said. To help him with his daily needs, Modise gets a monthly allowance.

Create jobs

The hotel also recruits non-skilled labour from the informal settlements. The goal is to create jobs while at the same time supporting youths to further their studies at centres of higher learning.

- Mbulelo Baloyi