Given the serious skills shortage in South Africa and the difficulty faced by youth from low-income communities in gaining further education and training after completing their schooling we launched a year-long, NQF level 2 learnership programme in 2014 in order to upskill and qualify individuals in Nature Conservation. In partnership with the City of Cape Town and with funding from CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality & Sports Sectoral Education and Training Authority) and the Table Mountain Fund the first intake saw 12 participants, mostly women and the majority from informal settlements, enter the programme.
Since our first learnership in 2014, we have gone on to offer 4 more learnership programmes – offering a total of 69 learnership positions. These programmes have included further Nature Conservation: Resource Guardianship NQF level 2 programmes as well as NQF level 5 Environmental Management Learnership and Nature Conservation: Environmental Practices NQF 4 programmes. To date, 85% of the individuals involved in the learnerships have found permanent employment or gone onto to further studies, proving this to be an incredibly successful model. A feather in our cap is that our graduates make up most of the shortlisted candidates for field ranger posts for conservation agencies in Cape Town. This is in part owing to the extra training we put them on during the learnership such as First-Aid, chainsaw and brushcutter training, alien plant ID and the opportunity for the participants to obtain their drivers licences.