A Stakeholder Engagement event was held in Polokwane, Limpopo province, on 24 October 2023, where the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and De Beers Group collaborated to celebrate significant milestones achieved through their joint efforts in empowering the youth of that province via the Skills 4 Life Programme. IYF acknowledged the valuable contributions and collaborative endeavours of key stakeholders who have played a pivotal role in the continuous growth of the IYF Skills 4 Life initiative. De Beers Group, in particular, stands out as a steadfast partner, consistently contributing to the programme’s success which underpins the De Beers “Building Forever” commitment aimed at substantially improving the socio-economic prospects of young people of Limpopo.

Anusha Naicker, the Country Director of IYF in South Africa, initiated the engagement by extending recognition and appreciation to De Beers Group, as well as the numerous esteemed stakeholder partners, both from the public and private sectors. Notably, many of these partners traveled from as far as the Musina and Blouberg districts to be part of this event. Ms. Naicker highlighted the profound impact that IYF’s collaboration with De Beers Group has had in expanding the project’s reach and advancing its objectives of skills development among the youth of the province. Ms. Naicker acknowledged the pivotal roles played by other key stakeholders, including the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Capricorn TVET College, Vhembe TVET Colleges, and IYF’s recently established accreditation partner, the Association for Skills Development in South Africa (ASDSA). She expressed gratitude for the invaluable contributions made by each stakeholder.

Ms Tebogo Mogale of Capricorn TVET College and Ms Olga Lambani of Vhembe TVET College both underscored the substantial and invaluable impact of the IYF/De Beers Skills 4 Life programme at the respective colleges. Ms. Mogale emphasized the programme’s pivotal role in enhancing students’ soft skills, essential for gaining employment and fostering entrepreneurship. Ms. Lambani lauded the transformative nature of the programme, noting its interactive learning environment, comprehensive workshops, and networking opportunities that contribute to personal growth and self-awareness. The lecturer capacitation programme, guided by passionate and knowledgeable trainers, not only imparts practical skills but also charts a clear path toward future success. Importantly, the entrepreneurial training programme extends beyond life skills to teaching Critical Thinking and Problem-solving, fostering strong workplace relationships and a commitment to lifelong learning. Both speakers expressed hope for the programme’s expansion into other curriculum subjects, emphasizing the enduring value of IYF’s Skills 4 Life programme.

Ms. Patricia Nemalili, Acting Director: Limpopo TVETs, emphasised the significant impact achieved through the partnership with IYF/De Beers, noting that, while the current collaboration covers two out of seven colleges in Limpopo, there is a heartfelt plea and hope from the DHET for the programme to extend to the remaining five colleges in the province. The remarkable achievement of 1,229 learner placements over two years stands out as a notable success in a region where DHET faced challenges, reflecting the positive influence of the programme within the colleges. Achieving and exceeding placement targets has been made possible through the support of IYF, further underscoring the programme’s effectiveness.

Lecturers and TVET staff from both colleges were acknowledged and awarded certificates for their dedicated participation in the comprehensive Skills 4 Life training. This training encompassed IYF’s Passport To Success for Life Skills and Effective Teaching methodologies, as well as including a new focus group of lecturers specialising in Business Advisory Level 6 training. These initiatives are designed to empower and equip lecturers with the skills required to enhance the employability and overall capabilities of the youth in Limpopo.

ASDSA, represented by CEO Mrs. Sharon van den Heever, reaffirmed their commitment to rectifying historical injustices by promoting equal access to employment and skills opportunities for all. The event was marked with tremendous enthusiasm as Mrs van den Heever proudly presented Ms Naicker with a Certificate of Stakeholder Registration, recognising the official launch of the partnership with IYF as a valued Stakeholder of the ASDSA for the CPD accreditation of the Skills 4 Life training programmes. This partnership signifies a significant step in the pursuit of equitable opportunities and skill development for all individuals.

Guest speaker, Zazini Molo, lead for EmpowaEntrepreneurs, emphasised a core objective of the initiative: fostering the growth of South Africa’s knowledge economy and expanding the pool of entrepreneurs in the country. Recognising the essential role of entrepreneurs in South Africa’s SMME economy, IYF and its partners have adopted a dual approach within the Skills 4 Life programme. While the curriculum is tailored to enhance the employability of South African youth, it also strives to instil an entrepreneurial mindset, unveiling post-graduate opportunities beyond traditional employment. Ms Molo reiterated the vital importance of collaboration for achieving success in this endeavour.

During his address, Gregory Petersen, De Beers Group’s Principal for Socio-Economic Development, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their unwavering commitment to the Skills 4 Life programme. He acknowledged the challenges faced by host employers and celebrated the programme’s ability to address them effectively. Mr Petersen urged continued collaboration and support, emphasizing the enduring impact on Limpopo’s youth. He thanked all partners, particularly Venetia Mine and its contractor partners, for their contributions. Highlighting De Beers’ inclusion of IYF’s work in their 2022 Sustainability Report, he applauded host employers for making a difference in the lives of families and communities in the province. He concluded by encouraging ongoing support and dedication to this transformative initiative.

The success of Skills 4 Life stands as a testament to the strength of dedicated collaboration. Key stakeholders’ active involvement has been crucial to the programme’s remarkable achievements. While events such as these serve as opportunities to reflect on milestones and achievements, they also serve as a platform for forward-thinking discussions. IYF is committed to gaining deeper insights into the shared vision of empowering the youth economically.

Skills 4 Life is here to stay, with its impact in Limpopo set to expand. IYF is eager to welcome new collaborators and partners to join their mission. The journey is far from over; every transformed life fuels community empowerment and contributes to a more prosperous and sustainable national economy, benefiting us all.