“We specifically target young people who dropped out of school and who have never received a training“, says Judith Turner, head of the Work Opportunity Programme (WOP). Last year KOLPING helped 384 young adults to be trained and start a career. KOLPING plans on extending this successful programme also to rural regions. That is why some days ago, KOLPING South Africa connected with players from the government and civil society to offer help specifically to young people in rural areas.
The Work Opportunity Programme consists of two parts. In the “Life Skills Programme“ young people learn about so-called “soft skills“: they learn to express their wishes and hopes. As part of a group, they build self-confidence and develop empathy and other skills to be able to take decisions and to cope with challenges in a constructive way. For many participants this is the first time that they can express their individual wishes, that others listen to them and trust them. In a second step they are offered a short course of vocational training of three to six months in an area that fits their interests and capabilities. KOLPING also helps them in their efforts to find a job.
Gugu Khumalo grew up in a poor neighborhood near Johannesburg. Her mother tried very hard to care for her but besides going to school, Gugu had to work in a pub in the evening to earn some money. After she had left school, she made a living by doing odd jobs. In her mid-twenties she learned about the WOP courses – which changed her life. “I have learned through KOLPING what really matters in life: believe in your goals and fight for a better life.” KOLPING offered her training in early childhood development. Now Gugu works for an organization that offers childcare for infants and toddlers in poor neighborhoods. She knows that children who grow up in poor surroundings often have few opportunities to develop successfully. She likes her job and her enthusiasm is contagious. This is her next goal: She wants to develop a program that helps children to learn through play and to develop their potential. “It makes me happy to help children and to improve their opportunities.”
After the Work Opportunity Programme has been very successful in major cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, KOLPING South Africa wants to establish this programme also in rural regions. Its target group will be “youths at risk“ who have few opportunities to be trained and find a job in rural areas. KOLPING South Africa has therefore met with other players to develop a strategy: Representatives of the Departments of Employment and Labour, of Education and of Social Development, of the church and of the region will use their connections to help young people find an internship or apprenticeship or they will assist them in starting a business. All participants agreed on the establishment of a competence forum that will support the youths. KOLPING South Africa is planning similar meetings in other regions to network with even more competent partners.