March 2020

A youth development programme, to prepare carpentry graduates for the workplace, has grown into so much more. Now in its second year, the fruits of the programme can be shared.

Thabo Modjadji from Ga-Modjadji in Limpopo, a carpenter and programme graduate shares how he has been helped by this development initiative that incorporates the transfer of skills and business training, amongst other support.

“This programme taught me the fundamentals about the daily running of a company, how to engage with clients and how to deal with dissatisfied clients. I am also pleased that I could help my family through the monthly stipend, whilst I have grown in terms of mental capacity”.

Thabo added, “I am motivated to achieve, as most of the activities were hands-on exercises; and best of all, I received assistance to find employment at one of the largest producers of timber in Tzaneen where I am currently employed”.

The Soutpan Solar Power Carpentry Graduate Programme that kicked off in January 2019, was inspired by the need to help provide work opportunities for graduates, coupled with the need for better school furniture.  By marrying these needs a value chain has been set up that is opening doors for young community members in the Blouberg Municipality.

The programme supports carpentry graduate interns that are provided with a monthly stipend, and have a 12-month work contract, following which a new group of graduates will fill their shoes.  The thinking behind the annual intake of graduates is to help prepare these youth for future careers, build their self-esteem and stimulate a culture of entrepreneurship.

“This graduate programme has been brewing in our minds since 2015, when we became aware of the very high rate of unemployment amongst the youth in the local communities, hence our plan was to prepare and assist these youth to enter the workplace, and also to help prepare them by providing experience to fulfil their day-to-day responsibilities,” said Harrisinah Theka, Economic Development Officer for Soutpan Solar Power.

The carpenters are graduates from the Capricorn and Waterberg TVET Colleges (Seshego Campus and Mokopane College) and are busy refurbishing furniture for nearly fifteen local schools.

“With the vast knowledge and skills that I have acquired, it has paved a way for me to enter any business terrain in the field of Carpentry.  My dream is to own one of the biggest carpentry companies that will be in a position to supply school furniture in South Africa and be able to reduce unemployment by creating employment for at least 50 undergraduates,” says Thabo, who sees no limitations in the future.