2018 WESSA Annual Review

The Youth Environmental Services (YES) Programme is an environmentally-fo- cused youth development and training programme funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and imple- mented by WESSA in the Northern Cape and Free State. The programme provides training and workplace-based experience for 270 un- employed youth per province, for 2018 and 2019. At the end of the learnership, the 540 participating youth will receive a year of mentoring and work experience. Youth living in areas with the poorest so- cio-economic circumstances and high unemployment rates were the target for YES recruitment. Conservation and tour- ism were identified as two sectors that can contribute significantly to the NDP goals. The YES Programme thus also di- rectly addresses the UN SDGs to develop sustainable communities, reduce poverty, provide decent work opportunities and stimulate economic growth. YES addresses the need for climate action, protection of life on land, advocates and educates for responsible consumption and engages in partnerships with local stakeholders to achieve these outcomes. The programme has three components through which it delivers success. Training We are developing skills and competencies enabling entry-level employment; quali- fying learners to access opportunities for further development and training in the tourism, nature conservation, eco-tourism and environmental education sectors. To date we have trained 132 Northern Cape and 101 Free State participants.

Workplace Experience Participants are exposed to aspects of practical environmental management that grounds their theoretical training. Work ex- perience includes: waste management, con- servation general assistant work, ranging, community liaison and stewardship work; bio-monitoring, alien species recording and control, compliance monitoring, supportive administration work, ecotourism support work, environmental education, awareness raising in their own communities and more. We have partnered with 14 host institutions in the Northern Cape and 16 in the Free State to create year-long internships, includ- ing government departments, NGOs, mu- nicipalities, national, provincial and private game reserves and private environmental companies. Community Service For two days every month, participants en- gage with the issues facing their communi- ties through their chosen activity. Thus far, these initiatives have focused on three ar- eas: supporting local care institutions such as crèches and old-age homes; environmen- tal education at schools and awareness-rais- ing (door-to-door), and stepping in to assist with service delivery –which has ranged from clean-ups around the community and admin assistance at clinics, to installing electricity in RDP households. An important aspect of the programme fo- cuses on developing exit opportunities for each participant. These exits are assisted by WESSA and may be in the form of a job at the institution in which they are currently placed, or enrolment for further study. Con- sidering that unemployment amongst youth (aged 18- 35) is at a staggering 38.2 % in 2018, the YES Programme is a much needed intervention to address unemployment.


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