Midvaal – For years Tumelo Alton thought construction was only about pushing bricks in wheelbarrows but the National Human Settlements (DHS) Youth Brigade Programme has opened his eyes to other career possibilities in the sector.
Alton, from ward 11 in Walkerville, is among 100 young South Africans participating in the programme, which was officially launched on Tuesday at Savanna City in Walkerville.
The programme will see 100 houses being built by youth, who will receive training from a company contracted for the project. The programme aims to build a group of young people, who will have the requisite skills set to participate in the construction sector.
The ultimate goal is to get youth involved in the building of 1.5 million housing opportunities in the next five years. The chance to get involved in the Youth Brigade Programme couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Alton.
“I wanted to go to a Further Education and Training (FET) college but when I heard about the skills development programme in June through our ward councillor, I decided to take the opportunity since I was job hunting.
“We started in October learning about building and plumbing, and now we are on site learning about the actual construction of a house. I’ve discovered many opportunities in the construction sector, something I never thought about,” the 28-year-old told SAnews.
Two houses and a recreational park have been completed since the project got off the ground in October.
Alton believes that the training received by young people through the programme will help the youth tackle unemployment.
“After six months of training, we will start training in plastering. The National Youth Development Agency has already divided us and invited those who want to start their own corporation to approach them so that they can learn how to start and run the business.
“Opportunities are there. The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) has also opened doors for us to do advanced training and the NYDA has informed us about bursaries. Such programmes are very good for us. All we have to do is grab and use them wisely,” said Alton.
Speaking at the launch, Human Settlements Director-General Thabani Zulu said young people are the future of the country and their empowerment is a huge and necessary investment that the leadership of South Africa must make.
Zulu said they chose to launch the programme in Walkerville, as 60% of the local population was made up of young people.
“We want to move to all the provinces of this country establishing youth brigades,” said Zulu.
Sedibeng Executive Mayor Mahole Simon Mofokeng said the Youth Brigade will instil a sense of responsibility and ownership to young people.
He encouraged the youth to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
“Sixty to 65% of the community is constituted by the youth, meaning our future is guaranteed and safe in the hands of the youth. We must knock on every government door rather that sit on the street and ask what opportunities are available and offered for the youth,” Mofokeng said.
Housing Minister commended
NYDA chairperson Yershen Pillay commended Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for prioritising youth development and taking seriously the issues of young people.
“If the President and other Ministers like Sisulu take seriously the youth of our country, then we don’t see the reason others in government should not follow suite. Young people should not be seen as passive recipients of development, we must be seen as active, constructive and productive agents of change.
“We’ve developed the National Youth Policy, National Development Plan and the Youth Employment Accord, and we will soon be developing the Youth Employment Accord for 2030. But most importantly, is how best we implement all these plans and policies,” said Pillay.
He said youth must also be involved in procurement. Last year, 589 young entrepreneurs were funded grants worth R25 million by the NYDA to set up small and micro businesses. – SAnews.gov.za