Residents from Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg who have dedicated themselves to rehabilitating the Hout Bay dunes received Ornamental Horticulture learnership certificates from the City of Cape Town on Thursday 18 July.These skills are recognised as part of the National Qualification Framework (NQF). Certification is received at NQF level 1: Ornamental Horticulture Learnership With this qualification, the 10 residents have improved their skills set and access to permanent employment opportunities in the future. The dune rehabilitation project is managed by the City’s Coastal Management Branch and covers approximately 50 000m² of re-profiled, netted and planted dune, which has significantly reduced the accumulation of sand on City infrastructure and private properties in the Hout Bay area.The re-profiled dune comprises three areas, namely the fore-dune, buffer-dune and back-dune, and suitable dune vegetation has been planted according to the requirements for each dune area.The Hout Bay dune rehabilitation project is an initiative aimed at managing the movement and migration of dunes. The profiling, wind netting, and planting of dune-specific vegetation have assisted in restricting the movement of sand, which has been a problem in this area for many years.Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt said that they have invested significant resources in the implementation of this project. “Apart from the work that is being done to stabilise the Hout Bay dunes, we have also appointed 10 Expanded Public Work Programme (EPWP) workers to maintain the dunes. These workers were selected from the local sub-council database and have benefitted from the temporary employment opportunities and skills development,” she said.The Hout Bay dune rehabilitation project is a pilot initiative to train and upskill EPWP workers. Nieuwoudt added, referring to the extensive amount of work completed by the group. “This team has been working on the project for the past 24 months. While spending time on the dunes they have learned about wind net management, maintenance, seed collection, plant propagation, ecology, irrigation management, and fertiliser application. Thanks to the training they now qualify to provide contracted services if opportunities arise for the maintenance of the dune systems in the future.“I am so proud of the immense enthusiasm and dedication showed by this team to have completed the training of the highest standard. We intended that this pilot project and training programme would provide them the necessary skills to apply for employment that requires experienced people with specialised skills in dune and coastal rehabilitation,” she said. “Future job opportunities could also include working in the horticultural industry and at nurseries, or by subcontracting to bigger companies to do specific dune work or plant propagation,” she added.City contracts have been secured for these workers for the next 18 months. These contracts will also include a NQF level 2 plant production learnership and AET Matric, as well as various other short courses for financial planning, life skills and small business enterprises. “To the recipients of the certificates, I would like to give a word of encouragement as well. By protecting our environment we ensure a future for our children. It is not just a job; it is a calling and I heed you for answering that call,” said Nieuwoudt.