New hope for youth

Renier Combrinck is tackling youth unemployment head-on.

A Hout Bay businessman has started a training programme for young entrepreneurs to tackle unemployment in the area.

The Hout Bay Young Adult Development (HBYAD) programme is aimed a job seekers from the ages of 22 to 35.

It has the backing of non-profit enterprise developer Angels Resource Centre and the City of Cape Town and will run out of the Harvest Centre in the harbour.

Renier Combrinck, the programme’s founder, is a long-time resident of Hout Bay. He said he had been mulling the project for three years and had been inspired by the work done by the Stellenbosch-based Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which combines personal development skills with vocational training and practical work experience.

“I am the owner of a construction company, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that those seeking employment are often not equipped with the necessary skills required for the job. It really comes down to a question of training,” Mr Combrinck said. “The problem is that young adults frequently don’t have the time to go through programmes because they have to work to put food on the table.

“With this programme, we will be supporting them with a basic daily allowance so they can be part of the academy. There is a desperate need for change, but it also requires a lifestyle change. If that happens, we will be able to create sustainable careers for the community.”

While he will provide vocational training at his own business, the programme is by no means limited to construction, and HBYAD will be partnering with other sectors to develop young workers.

“There are several solutions we have identified. There’s a need to enhance and improve education, take the programme into the business arena, partner with relevant governing bodies to ensure legalities are adhered to, establish the transferring of skills to other disciplines and monitor candidates continually,” he said.

“We also want to use community members to develop their own communities.

“The upshot is that once the candidates have completed the programme, they will already be known to the employer, thereby making a seamless transition to working in that particular field.”

Once applications have been received, candidates will undergo a screening process through the Angels Resource Centre. From these, academy candidates will be selected.

The HBYAD will be going door-to-door in Hout Bay and hosting meetings to spread awareness about the programme, which is scheduled to begin in March this year.

“The candidates will be drawn from Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu. We are looking at 15 students in the first year and a maximum of 25 students in the subsequent intakes,” Mr Combrinck said.

“The year-one programme will involve life skills training and job shadowing. This time will allow us to walk with the candidate on their journey to improve their skills. Essentially, year one aims to teach people what is needed to make it in the business world.

“Year two will involve an enterprise development plan. We will show them how to start and run their own businesses, and here we will be looking to involve existing FET colleges.”

He said it was unfortunate fact that big companies no longer offered apprenticeships as in the past, and HBYAD aimed to fill that gap.

The life skills component will be overseen by Sabine Wedderburn, a veteran of the electronics industry, while Angels managing director Lizelle Coombs will work on the business side of the programme.

“I have been working with people in rural communities to develop their businesses for 10 years now, and I can assure you there is nothing more beautiful than a mother who comes to you saying she can finally send her kids to school.

“That is what we hope to see here in Hout Bay. Angels will be connecting HBYAD to funders,” Ms Coombs said.

“The project will be part of Angels, but once it is up and running we will then let Renier fly on his own. We need to start treating entrepreneurs as real business people if we want to improve the situation in our country.”

At the launch at the Harvest Centre on Thursday January 25, the City’s deputy chairperson of safety and social services, Patricia Francke, welcomed the initiative.

“I am very excited about this project. Our vision as a City is to take our youth away from the difficult circumstances they are in now. I will definitely be following up on the progress of this programme,” she said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas hailed the project for focusing on candidates who were already a few years out of school but struggling to launch their careers.

“I like that it is being pitched to what we refer to as the ‘missing middle’. Since the City also owns venues in Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg, I would also be happy to facilitate the use of these venues for the programme.”

Harvest Centre manager Helena Fagan said a redesign of the centre was in the offing to accommodate the project.

“This would involve putting all the educational classrooms together,” she said.