LED Youth Conference a Success

Jolanda Hendricks, Solomzi Madikane, Carl Wastie, Nada Wotshela, Xolise Kosi

The Local Economic Development (LED) youth conference that took place in Hawston on Wednesday, 19 March 2014, attracted about 500 young people from all over the Overstrand.

Amongst those attending the conference, were the Mayor of the Overstrand, Cllr Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, Ms Nomonde Ndende of WESGRO, Director of the Department of Local Economic Development, Mr Solomzi Madikane, LED Manager, Mr Khosi, and a vibrant young DJ from Good Hope FM, Mr Carl Wastie. Various other stakeholders such as the DTI, the Department of Fisheries and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) were also present.

Carl, the day program director opened the event with a few jokes to put the youth at ease and thereafter Mr Madikane welcomed the Mayor, speakers and all in attendance. In his opening comments, he thanked the departments and young people who made the day possible. The emphasis was on the youth taking the initiative to do things for themselves and not to depend solely on the Government to provide opportunities. He stated that the NYDA, in partnership with LED, is one of the major sponsors of the event to ensure that the young people of the Overstrand are afforded the opportunities they deserve, provide information to help to make decisions and be competitive in their business endevours.

Mr Madikane said that young people need to be innovative by thinking out of the box and creating new ideas which can be converted into proposals for support to ensure sustainable jobs for the youth. He ended by saying, “an informed community has more chances of helping itself out of poverty”.

Mayor Nicolette Botha-Guthrie opened her motivational speech by welcoming and thanking everyone for attending the event. She mentioned that the 2011 Census indicated that 35% the total population in the Overstrand area is classified as youth between 15 and 35 years of age. She also spoke about governmental and non-governmental initiatives for the youth, of which the most recent directive is the 2013 Western Cape Youth Development Strategy.

Closer to home, the Overstrand Municipality supports the youth to develop into productive adults by:

1. Partnering with the NYDA to support the youth by means of business related training, business registration and career guidance. Several businesses have been registered and one young entrepreneur has already received financial assistance.

2. Facilitating the establishment of an Overstrand Youth Advisory Forum comprising of representatives from different organisations to address youth development.

The Mayor said that another initiative close to her heart is the Overstrand Junior Town Council, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and is made possible through Overstrand Municipality’s partnership with the Enlighten Education Trust. It capacitates young leaders to plough back into the communities where they reside. During their term of office, Junior Town Councillors are exposed to municipal service delivery and are required to take the lead in community deve-lopment initiatives.

The Municipality’s LED initiatives, which include training, enterprise support, EPWP work opportunities and learnerships, are primarily accessed by young people. The Mayor said that these initiatives of the LED Department are focused on the youth to guide their development in a positive manner.

Mayor Botha-Guthrie said that one of the issues that would be addressed at the conference is the sharing of information regarding career guidance. Statistics for the past five years show that the total number of jobs in the Western Cape did not increase, jobs for low-skilled young people have decreased and jobs for those with a tertiary qualification have increased. Education impacts on employment prospects and with the proper career guidance, young people can become responsible, independent and stable adults.

The conference also aimed to ignite young people’s entrepreneurial spirit. Economic opportunities exist in SMME deve-lopment that can be harnessed by young people and the Mayor urged them to utilise the network opportunity afforded by the conference.

In closing, she quoted the words of George Bernard Shaw that “Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”. “These are wise words to encourage all of you to seek the right opportunities and expand your career choices,” the Mayor said.

Noluthano Zweni