Drilling the right skills

2019-05-14 06:00
Bakers in training are taught in the same working environment as professional bakers, and are prepared for the industry. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Bakers in training are taught in the same working environment as professional bakers, and are prepared for the industry. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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The Sozo Foundation challenges mainstream education by equipping young people with applicable skills that they can use to start real jobs – now.

The foundation offers residents of Capricorn and surrounds, between the ages of 16 to 26, free skills training in graphic design, baking, carpentry, beauty and the art of artisanal coffee making, which is an industry that has expanded drastically in South Africa over the past five years.

The skills that are taught to the learners are backed with an accredited certificate that is given to them on the completion of their course.

Neville Williams is the barista master trainer who teaches his learners about coffee making, from scratch.

He says the work that he does at the foundation is important to him because the skills they teach really matter in the working environment. “One of the guys who completed the course with us went on to be a trainer at Seattle Coffee,” he boasted.

Each trainer and learner, across each programme, is supported by a peer-to-peer trainer who has completed the course; feeding the same skills from the community back into the community, to empower all the people who come through its doors.

Steve Morris, member of the chief executive officer team at the foundation, explained that the courses take place in an imitation environment that prepares learners for the real world, and works to serve a specific purpose in the carefully planned ecosystem. The bakery and carpentry programmes are based off-site and work together to keep things running. The carpentry students are trained by Cecil John, board member at the foundation and the very man who built the building that the foundation uses as its headquarters today. His carpentry students are trained to build furniture and other wooden items, the off-cuts of which are then taken over to the bakery to use as firewood in their ovens. “This year we have our first female students in carpentry. There are five of them,” said John. He added: “And every year I take four students from here and employ them at my business.”

The goods from the bakery are produced to retail to a number of the city’s most loved bakeries, as a source of income for the foundation to enable them to keep running the courses for residents.

The bread, bagels and other goods are also served to the learners at the foundation, off-site and at headquarters, for lunch. The foundation creates opportunities for holistic development for its residents through the key areas of education, skills development, youth empowerment and well-being.

Ronel Mannellepie, catering coordinator at the foundation, urges residents of the Cape Flats area to reach out to the foundation to empower themselves.


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