Skills College gives hope to marginalised youths

Poverty, high levels of youth unemployment and a dire shortage of skills are among the chief impediments to economic growth and job creation in South Africa.

It is a cyclical pattern that the Skills College for Development and Training, an accredited training institution based in Rosslyn, is determined to break. The college offers training for scarce, mostly artisanal skills so as to better the lives of recipients as reflected in its slogan: “The Skills College – Teaching Skills to Change Lives”.

It aims to make the objectives of B-BBEE a reality by ensuring that economic empowerment reaches those most in need of it through skills training and job placement, an area in which it has a record of 80%.

Its self-mandated goal is to empower young people from previously disadvantaged communities, mostly women but with a special focus on the disabled. Collectively these are the majority of people left behind by mainstream society insofar as economic empowerment is concerned. Says CEO and founder Marius Struwig: “I wanted to get into training so that I could give back to the community. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment has changed the game by placing emphasis on the lives of ordinary people.”

Established in 2008 in Silvertondale, the college is accredited with nine SETA’s and offers 30 accredited qualifications to learners from such areas as Soshanguve, Mabopane, Garankuwa and Eesterust and has satellite centers in areas including Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Tembisa. It has an ETQA (Education & Training Quality Assurance) and Administration Department, comprising facilitators, assessors and moderators in its permanent staff complement of 30, who travel all over the country in fulfilling its mandate. Its primary ETQA is the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Seta (MerSETA).

The college currently has 65 client sponsors, who get their skills set requirements fulfilled by the trained personnel from the college “We understand the skills development element of the B-BBEE scorecard and are specialists in implementing human resources training solutions for both the employed and the unemployed for companies or sponsors struggling to find a practical solution for their business,” says Thabang Sebotsane, Marketing and Sales head, who adds that the college also helps industry fulfill training quota requirements as stipulated by legislation.

Trainees also receive a monthly stipend for the duration of their training to smoothen their path through college. This is no small measure considering that a lack of funds to acquire marketable skills – including transport fees to learning centers – has put paid to many young people’s dreams of a better life. Both Struwig and Sebotsane believe that B-BBEE is superior to BEE as it ensures that the economic cake is more widely shared through broad-based skills training as well as support for small black businesses, among others of its intended benefits.

Th e Skills College currently has 320 disabled learners enrolled in one-year programmes, consisting of four months’ theoretical training and eight months of practical learning. The artisanal courses include Welding, Boiler-making and Electrical Engineering while softer skills include Business Administration, Generic Management, Supervising and Project Management which are also offered. Most of the practical training is conducted at the premises of the college’s sponsor clients as it is project-specific; in-take is run per project.

“I want to run my own events company and be able to do business administration,” said Abram Matlhabegoane (26) from Mabopane, who is also studying with TUT towards a diploma in events management. Matlhabegoane and classmate Althea Linton (25) from Eesterust cannot wait to finish their training and get going.

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