At the beginning of each year for the last five years, Bergzicht Training and Development has partnered with the Stellenbosch Municipality to train youth in Stellenbosch in sought after market required skills in child care, health and frail care and skills for the hospitality and tourism industries. These entry-level skills have helped many unemployed, unskilled and semi-skilled youth in the area secure employment, some for the first time in their lives.

Manie Pietersen, Portfolio Councillor: Youth, Sport and Culture, represented the Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch, Adv Gesie van Deventer, at the certificate ceremony of the 13 youth to complete the programme thanks to the Stellenbosch Municipality Mayoral Youth Skills Development Programme.

“Today, you have been given an opportunity by the municipality and Bergzicht Training and Development to change your dreams. The mayor wants to thank you for your endurance. You are a few of the selected candidates to complete this programme thanks to the Mayoral Youth Skills Development Programme. This programme addresses the high unemployment rate amongst youth and the need for skills development of the youth in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek,” said Pietersen.

He also shared some advice with the students that he had received from his dad many years ago when he felt despondent about a challenge he was facing. “He told me, tell your mind you are not tired, tell your mind you can go on. This is not an obstacle, you just need a winning recipe to overcome this.”

“Remember this, because this field will test your dedication and your commitment to working long shifts. It is not easy, but it is possible to attain success in this sector.”

“The next time I walk into a hotel I want to see one of you working there, because it will make me so proud to see that and it will make Stellenbosch proud too.”

“So today, be proud of what you have achieved.”

For 19-year old Amber Leith from The Ridge in Idas Valley, the municipality’s funding made it possible for her to pursue her interest in the hospitality industry and enroll for Bergzicht Training and Development’s Cathsseta Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme. The programme is presented in collaboration with the prestigious The Private Hotel School in Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch.

Amber completed matric in 2017 and was able to study Tourism at Boland College thanks to a bursary. However, after a year she realised her heart was in the hospitality industry and not tourism after all and she deregistered. Even though she had passed all her subjects, she was not able to obtain a bursary to study a course in hospitality at the college.

“I felt really hopeless about my life afterwards. I was worried about what I would do now that I was unemployed. But that’s when I saw the Bergzicht Training and Development advertisement in the taxi for the food service assistant programme”.

Asive Gungu (22) from Kayamandi finished matric in 2015 and had been unemployed for four years when a friend studying the Food Service Assistant Programme through Bergzicht Training and Development suggested he apply for the municipal sponsored one.

“It wasn’t easy being unemployed. I had to depend on my aunt to support me.”

Amber and Asive said the municipal-sponsored programme has been a blessing in their lives.

“You are able to get an education that you don’t have to pay for thanks to the municipality. Many of us had also been unemployed for a long time and this programme gave us a chance to do something with our lives,” said Amber.

“The municipality and Bergzicht Training and Development made a big difference in my life. We don’t have the money at home to pay for a course like this at The Private Hotel School. I would like to continue working in the hospitality industry and maybe in future I can pursue another passion of mine – to work in the agricultural sector,” adds Asive.

Both Amber and Asive has developed as individuals over the last 10 weeks.

“At the beginning of my practicals, I was very unhappy about the long hours I had to work. You are always busy. When you’re not chopping, you could be washing walls, but you are never standing still. I told myself, if you can’t keep up now, how are you going to survive when you are actually working in the industry. So I learned to chop those vegetables and clean those walls with a smile on my face,” said Amber and lets out a laugh.

One of the most important things he learned at Bergzicht Training and Development, said Asive, was to “never quit, to focus on what you want and to never lose hope”.

At the 16 June certificate handover ceremony, Amber, along with fellow student, Buhle Tshaka, each received a knife set from the municipality for their dedication and hard work throughout the programme. Knife sets are vital utensils in the kitchens of food establishments and are extremely expensive to purchase.

Heidi Truter, Sales and Marketing Manager at Asara Wine Estate, attended the ceremony to celebrate with the students, in particular two students who had done their work-integrated learning component of their training at the establishment.

“The word I have chosen for you today is achievement,” said Truter. “You have all achieved success. Some of the greatest inventors like Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, had to fail
1 000 times before he succeeded. However, Edison did not see it as a 1 000 mistakes,  but rather a 1 000 attempts at perfection. So see the mishaps and challenges in your life as steps to perfection. And don’t stop dreaming because that is what will help you to set the bar higher for yourself.”

Renske Minaar, the CEO of Bergzicht Training and Development, said that while youth unemployment rates in South Africa are troubling, the graduation of the Stellenbosch Municipality-sponsored beneficiaries is proof of how skills development partnerships between local government and non-government organisations, focused on market required skills, can help the youth access employment opportunities.

Photo: Thirteen students completed the Stellenbosch Municipality-sponsored Cathsseta Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme of Bergzicht Training and Development in Youth Month. From the left in front are Portia Jansen, Community Development Coordinator in the Community and Protection Services division at Stellenbosch Municipality, Celesté Van Wyk, Layken Hendricks, Elvira Bezuidenhout, Taryn Baadjies,  Masibulele Njongo, Buhle Tshaka, Asive Gungu, Renske Minaar, CEO: Bergzicht Training and Development, and Gary Boshof, Director of Community and Protection Services at Stellenbosch Municipality. At the back from the left are Councillor Manie Pietersen, PR Councillor, Portfolio Councillor: Youth, Sport and Culture at the Stellenbosch Municipality, Amber Leith, Lauren-Lee Isaacs, Jeffrey Ntozini, an Linda Mbityana, who was unfortunately absent on the day. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)