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Unemployed EC youth help restore dignity

written by Sulaiman Philip
A home-building project leads to young volunteers receiving technical training from the Department of Human Settlements’ Youth Brigade Programme. 

Unemployed youth in the Eastern Cape can volunteer for the Youth Build Programme to gain construction industry skills. (Photo: Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements)The Eastern Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Helen Sauls-August, handed over 60 newly built homes to families in the villages of Ntabankulu recently. What made the new homeowners even more proud was the fact that their homes were built by formerly unemployed youth from the district.

A team of 50 spent a month helping construction teams build the new homes. They were then sent for six weeks of technical training as part of the national Department of Human Settlements’ Youth Brigade Programme. 

The volunteer programme helps young South Africans to see that construction offers more than just a job pushing bricks in a wheelbarrow. At the end of the six-week technical training the youth will walk away with CETA (Construction Education and Training Authority) certificates in artisan development, employment and enterprise development and professional development.

They follow in the footsteps of 200 unemployed youth from the neighbouring Alfred Nzo District Municipality, who volunteered for the Youth Brigade Build programme and are now skilled builders. The Eastern Cape provincial government will roll out the project across the province.

The spokesperson for the provincial Department of Human Settlements, Lwandile Sicwetsha, says, “The programme is a departmental response to the call of upscaling government interventions for youth development. Youth participate in this programme either as professionals, labourers, entrepreneurs or beneficiaries.”

He added that while the programme is designed to give unemployed youth marketable skills, it has helped the province to address the housing backlog.

Handed over as part of Mandela Month activities, the new homes are white-washed, four-room buildings. The ceremony is, says Sicwetsha, more than just a celebration, it’s about restoring dignity to rural communities like Ntabankulu.