SOUTH AFRICA: Salesian YES Project Provides Employment Opportunities to More than 300 Youth Each Year
(MissionNewswire) Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than one dollar a day. South Africa is plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls and is the country hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty.
Salesian missionaries have been working to bring hope, particularly to poor youth in South Africa. From empowering girls and young women to building schools and teaching trade skills, Salesian missionaries have a long history of affecting change in the country.
Since 1910, the Salesian Institute has been helping homeless, unemployed and impoverished youth in Cape Town, the second most populous city and legislative capital of South Africa. Through the Institute’s Youth Projects program, Salesian missionaries provide shelter, education and workforce development services in an effort to meet the basic needs of the youth they serve while helping them break the cycle of poverty.
The Institute’s Youth Employment Skills (YES) project provides training and job placement assistance to 320 disadvantaged, unemployed youth each year. Young people between the ages of 18 and 26 complete an intensive three-week life skills course before undergoing a five-week employment skills course. Students are taught employment skills in much needed industry sectors including bricklaying, tiling and laminated flooring, computer maintenance, computer literacy and office management. The Institute’s goal is to place every graduate into a job once courses have been completed. More than 80 percent of graduates have found employment to date.
“Salesian missionaries living and working in South Africa know the local economy and are able to tailor educational programs to ensure the best employment opportunities for students after they graduate,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The addition of life skills training helps students make good life choices and be better employees.”
Most recently, the project has secured a partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to ensure ongoing employment opportunities for youth in the program. To date, more than 100 youth have initiated their work experience at KFC. Because of the growing local demand for employment skills training, the YES project fills to capacity within a few hours of registration opening. As a result, Salesian staff are looking for avenues to expand that can offer additional employment training and job opportunities.
“The YES project has been very successful and continues to grow. The training is a win-win for the local economy and the students. Students receive the employment training they need to lead productive lives while employers gain access to highly skilled employees,” adds Fr. Hyde.
The Salesian Institute’s Youth Projects consist of five main programs that include the YES project. In addition, there is an outreach program, a hostel for homeless youth, a learn-to-live education program and two workforce development programs. The projects are managed by a diverse group of individuals, some of whom live on the premises to support youth in the hostel and outreach programs.
UNICEF – South Africa