The Free State provincial government is committed to address the critical question of youth development and empowerment through education and skills training.
Provincial Bursary Programme
The Department of the Premier and the Department of Education are responsible for the implementation and administration of the Provincial Bursary Programme. For the 2011 academic year, the Free State provincial government assisted 4000 students with bursaries at various tertiary institutions throughout the country. A further 1500 bursaries have been awarded for the 2012 financial year.
The Premier, Members of the Executive Council, Heads of Departments and other senior government officials visit the bursary holders once a year at their tertiary institution. This provides the students with an opportunity to interact directly with the provincial leadership on matters of interest and concern. The management of each relevant tertiary institution is also engaged.
National Skills Fund Learnerships
The Department of the Premier is responsible for the implementation of programmes of the National Skills Fund. Various learnerships have been implemented. These learnerships provide young people with the opportunity to develop critical skills and gain work experience that will assist then to enter the formal job market. Learnerships implemented by the Department of the Premier are as follows;
- 130 youth are enrolled in the Information Technology / Technical Support learnership. The youth are from the towns of Welkom, Dewetsdorp, Marquard, Senekal and Excelsior.
- 130 youth, drawn from the localities of Bloemfontein, Harrismith and Kroonstad, participate in the Engineering learnership, specifically motor mechanics, spray painting and body repairs.
- 475 youth participate in the Agriculture / Mixed Farming learnership. These youth come from the areas of Bainsvlei and Tierpoort in the Motheo district; Bultfontein, Ventersburg, Bothaville, Soutpan and Wesselsbron in the Lejweleputswa district; Jacobsdal, Fauresmith and Trompsburg in the Xhariep district; Reitz, Memel, Warden and Petrus Steyn in the Thabo Mofutsanyane district and Cornelia, Viljoenskroon and Villiers in the Fezile Dabi district.
- An additional 175 youth participate in a further Agriculture learnership as follows; Fruit packaging in Bethlehem and Ficksburg; plant production in Welkom and Bloemfontein as well as poultry in Botshabelo, Kroonstad and Hoopstad.
- 440 youth participate in a Construction learnership, specifically, plumbing in Bloemfontein (Mangaung Metropolitan municipality), Wepener, Jacobsdal and Edenburg (Xhariep district); Welkom, Odendalsrus and Boshof (Lejweleputswa district); Steynsrus, Oranjeville, Parys and Sasolburg (Fezile Dabi district) and Frankfort, Fouriesburg, QwaQwa, Clarens and Vrede (Thabo Mofutsanyane district).
Unemployed Graduate Database
The Premier and Executive Council convened meetings throughout the Free State where they had the opportunity to interact with unemployed graduates. The details of unemployed graduates who participated in these meetings were obtained and the Department of the Premier is in the process of developing an updated database of unemployed youth. The intention is that the provincial and local government sector will have access to the unemployed graduate database when work opportunities and vacancies arise. It is envisaged that in the future, specific programmes will be developed that will seek to proactively secure employment and/or work opportunities for these unemployed graduates.