The CHIETA develops training programmes, in collaboration with Astron Energy and Petro Chemical, that will open up new career opportunities for unemployed youth in the Western Cape.
A learnership programme spearheaded by the Chemical Industry Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) and two local firms have inspired unemployed youth in the Western Cape to venture into the chemical industry in their numbers.
The programme, now in its second year, is targeted at young people from diverse backgrounds who have been afforded the opportunity to sharpen their skills at leading chemical firms, Astron Energy (formerly Chevron) and Petro Chemical Company (PCC). Astron and PCC, who are recipients of the CHIETA’s discretionary grants, have designed and rolled out these training programmes with the key objective of preparing unemployed youth to build a career in the chemicals industry.
The companies’ commitment to being strong corporate citizens through the promotion of education, skills and economic development were the main reasons behind their partnership with the CHIETA, which is already bearing fruits. Beneficiaries, who include women, said that the training programme has widened their horizons and is preparing them for the competitive job market.
Thandokazi Mzinyathi, a 27-year-old mother of two, said that she was confident that she would soon be in a position to stop relying on social grants to support her children. Mzinyathi is focussed on excelling in her studies and has high hopes of being able to get a job after completing the learnership programme.
“I know I can shine and I have no option but to succeed because I have to fend for my two children,” said Mzinyathi, who had her first child when she was doing Matric. “I want to build a bright future for my children and ensure that their lives are better than mine. At the moment my children rely on social grants but I know this will change soon when I complete the training at Astron Energy.” She continued.
Mzinyathi from Edutywa in the Eastern Cape first enrolled for the programme in 2017 and her dream is to change perceptions that some jobs are not suitable for women. “I want to change the perception that women can’t do certain jobs. I love working in the chemical sector and I want to prove the notion that some jobs are reserved for men wrong.” She added.
Thirty-year Coliswa Chibi, a mother of one, enrolled for level two of the programme in January 2018 at PCC and is upbeat about her career growth in the chemical sector. “I am already looking forward to completing levels three and four of the programmes so that I can secure a better paying job,” Chibi said. “I want to encourage my peers to try their luck in the chemical sector. To the ladies out there, you need to be strong and not be afraid of challenges. Gone are the days where jobs in such industries were reserved for men.” She added.
Nathan Reid (21) said the sponsorship and R3 100 stipend he gets from the CHIETA to undergo the training at Astron Energy has made a huge difference in his life. Reid mainly uses the monthly stipend on transport. “I would like to encourage my peers to take the opportunities they get to improve their lives because times are hard,” he said.
Vuyiseka Kusela (21), a mother of one from Engcobo in the Eastern Cape, is looking forward to doing level two. Kusela said she enjoyed learning about the different functions of valves and pumps. She also received training in the production of petrol and diesel during her stint at PCC. “I was happy to get the opportunity because I had no money to go to university. Opportunities do not come easy. Young people must know that going to university is not the only option for them,” said Kusela.
“I want to tell young girls that they mustn’t underestimate themselves and to just, go for it because we are as capable as our male counterparts. They say when you educate a girl child, you educate the world.” Kusela concluded.
It took Neliswa Siyotula (27) several jobs in the retail sector before she realised that her passion was actually in the chemicals industry, thanks to CHIETA. “I worked as a cashier at many companies such as KFC, PicknPay, Woolworths and Mr. Price before I got this opportunity,” said Siyotula, who is receiving her training at Astron Energy.
“I was not able to go to university because I am an orphan and I had a baby to fend for. There are a lot of opportunities in the chemical sector and for a long time the sector was considered to be a male domain but things are changing which means a lot of opportunities for women to explore.” Siyotula concluded.