Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown encouraged Hout Bay youngsters to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the six state-owned companies, but emphasised they still needed to educate themselves if they wanted to break out of the poverty cycle.
Ms Brown was the keynote speaker at a youth development and careers workshop at the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre on Friday October 13. Hundreds of pupils from Hout Bay High, Silikamva High and Sentinel Primary schools attended the event, which showcased opportunities at government-owned entities such as Eskom, Transnet and SA Express.
The pupils were in high spirits as they were entertained by local performers before the minister’s address, as well as speeches by the Maritime Education Movement’s Roscoe Jacobs and company representatives.
“Among the six companies last year, we gave 10 600 bursaries to learners. These were bursaries not only for university, but technical colleges,” she said.
“I believe that even if only 20 of you grab these opportunities in the next 10 years, it will make a difference. It will mean that 20 families will leave the poverty trap.”
However, she said it was important that pupils worked hard. “The fact that your teachers are here (at the event) means they are determined to see you break this poverty trap. You need to educate yourselves. I am relying on you to take this opportunity presented to you by the companies.”
The minister told the audience that her father had driven a SAB delivery truck and her mother had been a domestic worker, meaning that there was never much money in her household.
“I used to be a teacher, and the reason I became a teacher was because of my teacher. Because of the (political) organisation I belonged to, I was able to become a minister. You will have opportunities if you work hard.”
Mr Jacobs, who had “nagged” Ms Brown to bring the Public Enterprises roadshow to Hout Bay, urged the pupils to take up the opportunities, particularly in the maritime sector as Hout Bay was known for its fishing industry.
“Last week, the Minister of Transport spoke about a need for radical economic transformation in South Africa. The minister is here to tell you about the opportunities that can make that happen.”
Eskom representative Deon Engelbrecht told the audience that the parastatal created the most career opportunities in the country.
“If you follow a technical career, you are more or less guaranteed employment in this country. So my message to you is to follow a technical career. We give hundreds of bursaries a year,” he said.
“It is important that you do maths and science as school subjects, or at least do a bridging course if you are already in matric. Working at Eskom is a most rewarding career, but you do need to bring something to the table, which is why you need to have skills in maths and science.”
Following the speeches, pupils remained in their seats to receive lunch packs before they were given the chance to browse the exhibition stands set up outside the sports centre.
Public Enterprises communications manager Marcus Motlhatlhedi said the workshops were used as a means to motivate pupils to achieve good marks in their exams.
“Our minister is also from the Western Cape, and she is always keen to emphasise the importance of education to the province’s youth,” he said.
“Our department is always looking for talented young people.”