Fighting youth unemployment through training

Lizelle Coombs and Renier Combrinck.

A youth academy started to train entrepreneurs and fight unemployment is going from strength to strength, according to the Hout Bay businessman who started it.

Renier Combrinck launched the Young Adult Development Academy (YADA) earlier this year (“New hope for youth”, Sentinel, February 2) and it is running out of the Harvest Centre at the harbour.

Mr Combrinck is working with Lizelle Coombs, a social anthropologist who started Angels Resource Centres 10 years ago after studying how different cultures do business and realising that South Africans face some extraordinary hurdles in entrepreneurship.

At a brunch in Hout Bay harbour on Wednesday August 15, Mr Combrinck told how he had started his own training programme after struggling to find people who could work in his construction business.

“Many people have excellent potential at becoming artisans but haven’t had the opportunity to go to school or have come from homes that don’t encourage the development of skills,” he said. “You can get a guy who 
knows how to do plaster work, but he doesn’t understand how his work fits into the whole pro-
ject. It’s important for them to understand the impact each person has on the process from beginning to end. They can then learn to be a project man-

“I’m going to expose them to everything: this is the life cycle of a house, from planning and engaging with a customer to the application and business pro-
cess, to the physical construction. They can become reliable sub-contractors, making them accountable and proud of the work they do.”

Candidates, who are selected from Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg, will do a two-year training programme.

“This programme starts with teaching life skills, specifically how to operate in the business world: computer skills, marketing, client liaison, and more,” said Mr Combrinck.

“They will be exposed to the physical building process during this time, learning the discipline that is required to work in the industry. They will be assessed during this first year and then guided to their area of interest, learning how to become an artisan in that field and creating their own business or finding a job where we can provide a reference and support.”

Mr Combrinck said the focus was on unskilled young people and school-leavers between the ages of 18 and 35.

“Many come from dysfunctional family situations where parents are so busy trying to survive that they don’t get a chance to teach their kids how to be a part of the business world.

“Some don’t even have parents. We are taking on 10 to 15 people in our first year who fit our key criteria: commitment, literacy, discipline, and the ability to work as a team.

“We will help them to enhance their commitment and discipline and become the support system they may not currently have.”
Long-term plans for the Harvest Centre, which Mr Combrinck has renovated, include creating a training workshop and possibly also offering courses for older people, including classes in science and maths.

YADA hopes to work with colleges and other educational institutions where its graduates can study further.

Ms Coombs said South Africa could solve much of its un-
employment and poverty by inspiring a culture of entrepreneur-

It’s not an easy journey, but we have to start somewhere,” she said. “We cannot do this without partnerships in existing industries and we welcome anyone who wants to join us on this journey in building skills that can benefit our country.”

Anyone interested in participating, can contact YADA at