Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: September 12, 2022

Accelerating Toward Brighter Futures

Today in South Africa, more than a third of young people ages 15-24 are extremely poor—largely because they lack access to quality education and employment opportunities. At the Salesian Institute in Cape Town, hundreds of promising students in that same demographic are gaining the knowledge and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

For more than a century, the Institute’s rallying cry has been to educate marginalized youth with nowhere else to turn—especially those who have experienced abandonment, homelessness and unemployment, like Yumnah. This recent graduate credits the job training he received at the Institute for helping to turn his life around.

“I learned everything here,” he says. “Not only entrepreneurship but self-esteem, how to start your own business, where to go, who to talk to, and how to ask for help when you need it.”

“As this young man shows us, education is one of the most empowering tools we have in the fight against poverty and despair,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “That’s why the Salesian Institute’s Youth Projects Initiative remains crucial to the future of South Africa’s children and young adults.”

The Youth Projects Initiative includes four main educational tracks. The “Learn to Live School of Skills” is a four-year program that provides basic education and vocational training for 14- to 18-year old students who haven’t succeeded in a mainstream school environment. The “Waves of Change Maritime Program” enrolls students up to the age of 35 and trains them for employment in the fishing and maritime industry. The “NEETs Youth Employability Program” offers a national certificate in small venture development for youth who aspire to become entrepreneurs. And the “Porsche Mechatronics Program” unlocks professional opportunities by training students as automobile mechanics for Porsche models and sister brands including Audi, Volkswagen and Bentley.

This latter track represents the latest in educational innovation. LSM Distributors, South Africa’s Porsche importer, provides the practical training—with curricula and teaching assistance from the Salesian Institute. Don Bosco Mondo, based in Bonn, Germany, provides additional support.

Youth who are interested in this program may follow one of three potential routes to enroll. Applicants meeting all prerequisites for the training may immediately enter the two-year program. Those who fall short in some areas must first complete a six- to eight-week life skills training course through the Youth Projects Initiative. And aspiring mechanics who lack baseline skills will have the opportunity to complete a one-year program to prepare them for further training and employment.

Once they graduate, students receive job-placement assistance to help them find positions within Porsche South Africa and elsewhere.

“Since 1910, the Salesian Institute has been providing education and workforce development services for hundreds of South Africa’s at-risk youth each year,” concludes Fr. Gus. “Opportunities like the Porsche Mechatronics Program continue this vital legacy, drawing a roadmap to assist them in reaching their ultimate destination—the ability to support themselves and their families, and contribute to their country’s economic growth.”

Learn more about our work in South Africa.

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