Graduating Youth Artisans Ready for Business
September 14, 2023
As UNDP and partners continue to roll out the Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme (EYEP), 90 artisans from Ezulwini and surrounding areas graduated and received starter packs today. The graduates are young people who were out of the formal school system and unemployed. They were selected for the EYEP Artisanal Skills Training after applying for this programme. The 90 graduates – 51% are female and 49% male – were selected from over 350 applicants.
The graduation ceremony follows a three-month training of the youth in six courses – sewing, upholstery, plumbing, building and construction, electrical installation, and metal work – facilitated by the Manzini Industrial Training Centre (MITC). Each course had 15 participants.
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The high-level event was attended by the Minister of Education and Training, Hon. Lady Howard-Mabuza, Minister of Sports Culture and Youth Affairs, Hon. Harris Bulunga, the Chief of Ezulwini who is also the Attorney General, Sifiso Khumalo, UN Resident Coordinator, George Wachira, UNDP Resident Representative, Rose Ssebatindira, Ezulwini Mayor, Bongile Mbingo, EYEP donors, stakeholders and invited guests.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Phinda Nyambose, appealed to businesses and communities to support the artisans because they have acquired adequate skills although this was a three-month training programme. For example, he said, the metalwork participants have secured a tender to renovate a home in one of the capital city’s suburbs and got their first cheque from a client who was very impressed.
“We’re registering companies, and we’ll be knocking on your doors to support us,” said Nyambose, adding: “Please continue working with the youth.”
Echoing the words of her colleague, Gugulethu Masuku expressed her gratitude to EYEP sponsors who have provided financial support to the programme for the training, transport, starter packs and meals. These include the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, CocaCola-CONCO, Public Service Pension Fund, MTN, and Ezulwini Municipality. The Construction Industry Council has also partnered with the programme to help the graduates access internship opportunities to sharpen their skills.
“Your generosity has allowed us to pursue our dreams, shape our skills and embark on our remarkable journey. Your belief in us has inspired us to work hard and strive for excellence,” said Masuku.
The graduates brought their finished products to the event. Sewing graduates showcased the clothes they made, metalworkers brought a braii stand and those in upholstery a sofa and ottoman.
Speaking on behalf of parents, Thoko Kunene-Makhanya expressed gratitude to UNDP and partners for supporting the youth to find sources of livelihood to support themselves.
“As a grandmother, we find ourselves having to share our grants with our children, but this programme has taken care of this responsibility,” said Kunene-Makhanya. She appealed to all partners to ensure that the programme continues to support other unemployed young people to get skills.
High-level speakers also added their voices in support of EYEP.
“I’d also like to appreciate and thank UNDP for demonstrating that with concerted action the challenge of youth unemployment can be a thing of the past. To the government ministries charged with spearheading and supporting this initiative for the contributions made to the success of this programme and to the private sector for opening for our graduates to gain skills and experience,” Chief of Ezulwini, Sifiso Khumalo.
“Today, we are delighted to be a part of history in the making as we all participate in this joyous event where a big number of our young people took the initiative to apply to the portal made available to them for the training on the TVET component. Your efforts have not been in vain, and a lot of other youths will look up to you as a good example of an effort well spent,” Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Hon. Harris Bulunga.
“My Ministry of Education and Training is proud to have worked with other government Ministries in the development of the Technical and Vocational Training Policy which was graciously approved by Cabinet. This approval demonstrates the importance that government assigns to this type of education and its ability to change young people’s lives, allowing them to contribute to the economic transformation of the country,” Minister of Education and Training, Lady Howard-Mabuza.
“I suggest that we also recognise that artisanal skills can play a major role in ensuring value addition to our raw materials and natural resources as key to driving manufacturing and industrialisation in order to get value for our rich natural endowments,” UN Eswatini Resident Coordinator, George Wachira.
“As we all know the causes of youth unemployment are complex and multifaceted and therefore require all hands-on deck, across institutions and most importantly – involvement of community structures/institutions, which I’m proud to say this pilot Eswatini Artisan Training programme has demonstrated” UNDP Resident Representative, Rose Ssebatindira.