Context: It is one of South Africa’s paradoxes that there exists great demand for skilled customer service workers on the one hand and massive unemployment on the other. The unemployment rate among the country’s youth is 51% – more than twice the national unemployment rate. In the Eastern Cape, South Africa’s poorest province and home to 20% of the country’s AIDS orphans, overall unemployment stands at 25% and 36.1% amongst youth. Tourism has become one of the most important sectors in South Africa, creating almost a million jobs since 1994 and overtaking gold exports as an earner of foreign currency. It is projected to grow by an annual 2% between 2009-2020.The Eastern Cape Government has committed to creating 220,000 job by 2020.
Organization: The Wilderness Foundation (WF) was established in 1972 to encourage, plan and protect South Africa’s wilderness and create an environmental ethos among current and future leaders. Recognising that the sustainability of South Africa’s natural reserves is intrinsically dependant on its social and economic sustainability, in 2006, the Foundation developed the Umzi Wethu Vocational Training Academy – an intensive, year-long boarding programme providing at-risk youth with the chance to access livelihood opportunities in nature-based tourism and related industries. In response to the lack of motivation and poor literacy among academy applicants, the Wilderness Foundation has more recently established the Siyazenzela Livelihoods Programme to specifically address general employment amongst unemployed youth.
Current Grant: EMpower’s 3rd grant to Wilderness Foundation supports the expansion and refinement of its Vulnerable Youth Programme which provides employability training, life skills as well as vocational training to at-risk youth in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province.