Nhlangano youth “gains lifetime skills” under EYEP

Youth programme continues to support unemployed youth to gain skills for livelihoods

May 31, 2024

Sikhulile Nxumalo speaking on behalf of the graduating artisans.

UNDP/Zitsile Khumalo

The Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme (EYEP) reached yet another milestone on May 23 as 90 unemployed youth from Nhlangano and surrounding areas in the Shiselweni Region graduated after receiving training in artisan skills for three months. Initiated by UNDP in partnership with the government, private sector, academia and civil society organizations, EYEP seeks to contribute to reducing youth unemployment which stands at 58 per cent within the age group of 15 to 35 years.

The graduates with a diverse educational background ranging from primary school certificate holders to those who graduated from tertiary received training in sewing, upholstery, plumbing, building and construction, electrical installation, and metal work. From the 90 participants, there was an equal split of males and females and each course had 15 participants. The Nhlangano Industrial Training Centre (NISTIC) under the Ministry of Education and Training facilitated the training.

This is the second cohort of artisanal graduates after an equal number of youth participants from Ezulwini graduated following a similar training in September 2023. The youth artisans also received starter kits with essential tools in their respective fields to help them start small businesses in their communities. The mobile network giant, MTN, through its foundation, sponsored the starter kits to the tune of E160 000.

The graduation ceremony was held at the Bethesda Free Evangelical Christian Fellowship Church and graced by representatives from the Ministry of Education and Training, MTN Eswatini, Nhlangano City Council, UNDP, EYEP partners and stakeholders.

EYEP – through support from partners including the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, CocaCola-CONCO, Public Service Pension Fund, and Nhlangano Municipality – also provided transport and meals to the participants.

Speaking on behalf of graduates, Sikhulile Nxumalo thanked UNDP and its partners for the EYEP initiative to help alleviate the soaring youth unemployment in the country.

“We have gained a lifetime skill that will change our lives for the better,’’ said Nxumalo.

Echoing her colleague’s sentiments, Mayibongwe Ngozo, expressed his gratitude to EYEP sponsors for their financial support to the programme. The Construction Industry Council has also partnered with the programme to help the graduates access internship opportunities to sharpen their skills.

“The unemployment rate will now decline due to the skills you have given to us,” said Ngozo, adding: “We will work and also hire our counterparts.”

Sewing graduates showing off their outfits they created during the training.

UNDP/Zitsile Khumalo

To demonstrate that they have gained enough skills, the sewing graduates showcased the clothes they made during the training.

Also adding her voice was MTN Corporate Affairs Manager, Thandiwe Mashinini, who expressed gratitude to UNDP for creating a platform for “corporates to play a part in such a great initiative.” She also encouraged the graduates to start businesses and hire other young people. 

Speaking at the same event, Acting UNDP Resident Representative, Gita Welch, said Eswatini youth will decide the future of Eswatini, and the role of the United Nations is to support their priorities. 

“Others can help you,” she said, adding: “Others can point the way like our parents did with us when we were small, but all the rest depends on you.”

Shiselweni Regional Education Officer, Richard Dlamini, and UNDP Acting Resident Representative, Gita Welch.

UNDP/Zitsile Khumalo

Shiselweni Regional Education Officer Richard Dlamini encouraged the youth to embrace entrepreneurship instead of looking for jobs. 

“As we stand on the cusp of a new era, Eswatini’s industrial policy hinges on the expertise of these artisans. Their hands will build factories, wire smart cities and forge the infrastructure that propels us forward into the first world status,” he said. 

Youth artisans from Mankayane and Siteki, in the Manzini and Lubombo regions respectively, 90 from each, will graduate in June. The total number of youth artisans from the four regions trained under EYEP within the first phase of the implementation of the programme is 360.