Nelson Mandela famously said: “Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future,” and we couldn’t agree more with his sentiment. Young South Africans hold the key to unlocking endless possibilities on the horizon. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) set to alter every aspect of life as we know it, equipping our youth with the skills they need to understand and use rapidly evolving technologies will serve our country well.
As such, Exxaro has set aside R40 million to upskill 400 South African youth as part of our Youth Development Programme, known as YDx (Youth Exponential Development). YDx aims to uplift the knowledge and capabilities of our youth in the communities where we operate by exposing them to the exciting fields of technology and innovation. In turn, the programme empowers local communities and closes skills gaps in underprivileged areas. Educating the youth in these areas is especially important during South Africa’s current economic crisis as it has a positive knock-on effect on both society and the economy.
In partnership with the South African Digital Content Organisation (SADICO), we invited South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35 with interest in computers and technology, as well as a desire to start their own business, to apply for the programme. They also had to reside in one of the following communities: Emalahleni, Victor Khanye, Emakhazeni, Steve Tshwete or Govan Mbeki in Mpumalanga, and Lephalale or Tshikondeni in the Limpopo province.
Of the 3 000 applications we received, we selected 34 youth to be trained in our first leg of the programme, which took place in May 2019. After each trainer had completed the course, they would, in turn, be responsible for training the community youth and passing on their valuable knowledge and skills.
Thus far, eight groups have received extensive training on services, including cell phone repairs, DStv installation, solar energy and 3D printing. We then organised the trainers into technology cooperatives, which would be incubated for 12 months. These cooperatives were registered, and business email addresses were set up.
We are proud to announce that, as of the end of July 2019, all 400 of our selected candidates have been trained to deliver their multiplier magic in their respective communities – the gift that truly keeps on giving.
Some of our trainers share how YDx has empowered them to not only push for better careers for themselves but also help uplift and inspire their communities.
“Since starting the training, our lives have changed. We were taught technology skills, such as website development, cell phone repairs, IT support, and solar solutions, to name a few. After a week of training, we went back into our community as registered cooperatives, tasked to change and improve the lives of our fellow community members,” explains Neo Nkadimeng, from the Steve Tshwete and Emakhazeni Municipalities.
Sebo Mabeba, from Lephalale, agrees, adding, “The programme is one of a kind, and the information has a lot of value. We thank Exxaro for this amazing opportunity to address youth unemployment in our communities through this programme. For me, it all boils down to being ready to be challenged, and then for the YDx programme to take you further.”
“We now know it is within our power to make the change from unemployed to employed. Through this programme, our mindset has changed. This is the way to go about solving the unemployment we face as a country,” concludes Siyabonga Msibi, from Govan Mbeki municipality.
At Exxaro, we strongly believe in powering possibility by creating opportunities to develop exceptional young people. Skills development and education are vital to the digital future of our continent, and we will continue to invest in youth empowerment and community development initiatives to build a brighter tomorrow, for all.