Joy over SA biodiversity jobs

2013-06-08 22:02
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Pretoria - Jubilation filled the air at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens on Saturday as interns in the pilot Groen Sebenza jobs fund partnership expressed delight in joining South Africa's natural resources management sector.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa launched the R300m project, spearheaded by the department's SA National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi).

The project is aimed at unlocking the vast benefits of a green economy, she said.

The programme has absorbed 800 unemployed young people.

Groen Sebenza is a combination of Afrikaans and isiZulu, translating to green work.


One intern, Dakalo Gadisi said after attaining a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, in 2006, he could not find a job. He ended up joining the SA Police Service.

"I never got the chance of getting employed in the field of environmental science, even as an intern. I ended up saying I would take up any job which came my way," he said.

"I was trained as a police officer, doing crowd management. Being a policeman had never been my passion and I knew I was doing something I did not like. I worked there for six years."

Gadisi said while deployed to maintain order at the Marikana commission of inquiry, sitting in Rustenburg at the time, he came across an official of the NCC Environmental Services who encouraged him to join the consultancy firm.

"I had to stop the lady who was driving a branded NCC environmental services vehicle. I told her that I did not like the job that I was doing and had qualifications in environmental management," he said.

"At NCC, they realised that I was passionate about conservation. I was willing to abandon my permanent job to become an intern. I was not concerned at becoming an intern and earning half the salary I was getting as a cop."

NCC environmental services is one of 33 public, private and non-governmental organisations partnering with the environmental affairs department's Sanbi in the Groen Sebenza project.

The programme involves the placement of the young people in skilled jobs in the various institutions across the biodiversity sector for a period of two and half years.

World Environment Day

Gadisi, 28, is now an intern at NCC environmental services. He is now studying for an Honours degree in environment management.

Another "incubate" within Groen Sebenza, Tshepo Mmola said he had been jobless after the closure of a Pretoria recycling company he had worked for.

"I am thrilled to be part of this initial group which started in May. I was allocated to be trained as an environmental technician, an area which I did not know about," said Mmola.

"After matric, I did not have the funds to further my studies. I am getting to learn at the moment and I hope to start my own company after this course."

The 26-year-old urged other South African youth to contribute actively to nature conservation and not to lose hope in times of difficulty.

"They must not sit around and wait for things to come their way. I got to know about this Groen Sebenza project when I approached the environmental affairs department seeking to start my own recycling company," said Mmola.

While in the "incubator" programme, the youth would receive mentoring, training, a stipend and access to formal qualifications over a two-year period.

The launch on Saturday coincided with the annual commemoration of World Environment Day.

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June. This year, the United Nations Environment Programme held the commemorations under the theme "Think. Eat. Save".

In SA, the celebrations are amplified as June is recognised as national environment month.
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