At the Department of Human Settlements Youth Brigade programme graduation, MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela stressed the importance of upskilling young people so that they do not become dependent on government.
At the ceremony, which was held at the Zolile Malindi Hall in Mfuleni on Tuesday August 16, about 30 graduates received certificates.
“We cannot have a nation of beggars. We need to change things and make education accessible so that young people can sustain themselves in the end.
“This programme excites me because it responds to that. It is wrong that we give out child grants and houses free to young people. We should be giving (these to) seniors because they were deprived of an opportunity to learn, not young people,” he said.
He said the Youth Brigade programme was launched in June last year and aimed to develop young people into active participants in the construction industry.
He said through this programme, the youth could choose to become bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, project managers, construction controllers and so on.
“Also, the youth are empowered not only to become qualified artisans but they can start their own businesses and employ more people. We create an environment where young people learn. We must make sure that this programme expands. We also need to make sure that they are placed so that they can be able to provide for their families. We want to make sure that they are linked to the right companies. No young people should go around protesting for a free house. I am excited that we have started this programme,” he said.
Private partner in the programme, Sean van Horsten, said the programme was proof that government was serious about empowering young people and commended those involved.
“What excites me most is that these young people have built a few houses already.
“We now believe that we have a blueprint that we can take the programme to other areas too. We want them to give us top quality work,” he said.
Another partner in the initiative, the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme, was equally thrilled that young people were being empowered. EPWP director Mzimkhulu Gusha said the rationale behind the programme was to upskill the youth, reiterating the fact that the graduates should now become job creators. We need to strengthen the programme. As EPWP we believe we have now found good partners in the human settlements department. I now see the contactors of tomorrow and potential job creators,” he said.
The elated graduates sang and danced after he event showing happiness and appreciation.
One of them, Phila Mbenya, said she was grateful to have been among the empowered youths.
She said everyone was grateful to the government and its partners for the opportunity.
“We promise not to disappoint. This is a great opportunity that one has got. We promise to make it worth while,” she said.