Training youth to be the artisans of their own future

Members of the trade skills programme are flanked by John Buyers on the left and Melanie Veness on the right. PHOTO: byrone athman
Members of the trade skills programme are flanked by John Buyers on the left and Melanie Veness on the right. PHOTO: byrone athman

FUNDED by Performed Line Products (PLP) in association with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), the KZN Master Builders Association Training Academy is training 20 young people from underprivileged backgrounds across Pietermaritzburg in trade skills such as: bricklaying, plastering, plumbing and tiling.

The PCB is establishing the PCB Centre of Learning and Innovation, which aims to skill students and unemployed youth for current and future jobs.

“The current unemployment rate is 27,6%. What is even more shocking is that youth make up a staggering 63,4% of this unemployment figure in South Africa,” “Technical training is enormously important to the growth of the country and quality artisans can bring huge value to businesses across South Africa and to the country.

“In addition, people with building and plumbing skills are well-placed to start their own businesses if those skills are supported with entrepreneurial training and support,” said PCB CEO Melanie Veness.

It is against this background that the PCB sourced funding from the private sector and partnered with the KZN Master Builders Association Training Academy to offer basic courses in the aforementioned skills.

The project was funded by PLP whose CEO, John Buyers, is passionate about education and skills development.

Twenty young people are being trained (10 men and 10 women) at the new centre in Alan Paton Avenue.


• Provide them with the basic tools and equipment necessary to perform their trades

• Provide them with a basic portfolio to guide development — it is to be completed and updated as experience is gained over time, and this will enable trade-testing

• Facilitate opportunities to gain experience

• Provide entrepreneurial training and support

• Admit the new entrepreneurs as members of the PCB

• Facilitate access to market

“We are also hoping that our city leadership will consider putting these new skills to work when revitalisation projects are initiated.

“Young people are our future, and this is their city,” said Veness.

One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Sandile Shezi, was excited to have been chosen to be a part of the initiative, saying: “This means so much to me.

“Through this initiative I can harness and hone my skills and receive a certificate at the end of it for proof to show other companies that I am capable,”

“It also means a great deal to me and my community in that eventually one day I can teach others or own a business through which I can one day employ others from the community and create more jobs,” said Shezi, who wanted to thank everyone who made the programme possible for himself and others.

Buyers said developing the skills of the youth is one of the main goals that PLP focuses on, especially empowering the youth to one day go about creating more jobs for the people of South Africa. “We are interested in finding young people who we can help to develop tangible skills. “The youth make up a very important aspect of the current job market and it is in our best interest to develop their skills, especially trade skills which our country currently faces a shortage of,” said Buyers.

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