The Community and Youth Development Department is also home to the Youth Access: Bridging Course Programme. Being the only programme that gives opportunities to school leavers, the 2023 course started in July and is scheduled for completion in December 2023. With the aim in 2023 being to balance the three aspects of people, planet, and economy, the department targeted more students to participate in the course this year and thought of ways to provide more exit opportunities for them. The traditional programme saw the students exiting the programme and pursuing careers in the Field Ranger, Guiding and Security Industry with Responsible Resource Use knowledge and skills, which were limited to the Conservation and Security sectors.
The Department is delighted that there is now a wider range of exit opportunities in 2023. One can choose to either pursue a career as a
- Research Assistant,
- Data Capturer,
- Office Administrator,
- Field Ranger,
- Nature Guide,
- Nature Conservator,
- Environmental Educator,
- Environmental Monitor,
- or General Assistant
- or pursue further education and training.
This decision will be at the discretion of the successful candidate upon completion of the programme.
The 2023 Youth Access: Bridging Programme offers Foundational Learning Competence (FLC) examined by the Independent Examinations Board (IEB). This will give youth who did not graduate with English and Mathematical Literacy after Matric a chance to access further training by being occupationally competent in Mathematical Literacy and English Communication. Upon completion of the FLC, the youth now complete the Environmental Education Module pitched at an NQF 5 Level.
During the programme the students also get an opportunity to complete a Leadership programme which also includes basic survival skills and responsible resource use. The last component of the Bridging Programme focuses on the Eco-Ranger course. This course aims to facilitate the protection, restoration, improved resilience and sustainable use of South Africa’s species and ecosystems. It also aims to prepare post-matriculants to use knowledge of biodiversity monitoring of processes, concepts, and systems of living and non-living organisms within the context of ecology and wildlife conservation. This will allow them to perform tasks that aim at contributing to the effective conservation of biodiversity and protection of natural resources, including plants and animal species in and outside the protected areas.
Fifteen (15) youths from Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal were selected and are benefiting from the donor-funded programme. The Department is grateful to the following donors: Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Italtile and Ceramic Foundation, Friends of African Wildlife and Metamorphosis Foundation in enabling the Department to achieve its objectives in making conservation accessible to all.