Stellenbosch Municipality

By: Stephanie Nieuwoudt

He knows that without some kind of skills training, life will be tough. And that is why he decided to apply for the Mayor’s Youth Skills Development Programme.

“I left school with a grade 10 certificate, but I have since realised that nothing comes easily to you without a formal qualification,” says Kenwood Malgas (20) one of twelve young people who successfully applied for the carpentry programme offered at Stellemploy training centre on the Knorhoek Road just outside the town of Stellenbosch.

Here the young wannabe carpenters are hard at work sawing, fitting and planing pieces of wood.

Photograph: Arthur Palmer, Emmanuel Nkoko and Kenwood Malgas say they know they will find employment as carpenters.

“I wanted to do this carpentry course because I love working with my hands. I like the way that wood can become a number of things like roof trusses, skirting boards, cabinets and much more.”

Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch, Conrad Sidego, this year made three accredited skills development programmes available. They are in carpentry, electrical skills and basic cooking skills – which includes an introduction to other aspects of the hospitality industry. The names of the 36 (12 in each discipline) successful applicants were announced at a Mayoral Youth Day Event in June 2015. The carpentry and electrical candidates are trained by Stellemploy and the hospitality industry candidates at the Private Hotel School in Vlottenburg were trained as part of an accredited programme of Bergzicht Training.

The successful young people had all passed an interviewing phase, practical testing and had paid a visit to the industry.

“The way the candidates interacted during their industry visit was quite important in the selection process,” explains Michelle Aalbers, Manager: Community Development at Stellenbosch Municipality. “We also took into account passion, eagerness to learn more about the industry and dedication.”

Says Sidego: “These 36 skills development opportunities are sustainable and offer great potential for future growth. Sometimes one thinks that a certain goal is unreachable. I want to encourage all young people to do what they might think is impossible. Because anything can seem impossible until it is done.”

At Stellemploy Arthur Palmer (27) puts down his hammer to share why he applied for this programme.

Although he play drums for a band and was previously a member of the Cape Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, he also knows he “will not make any headway in life without some formal training”.

“I hope that this course and the skills that I learn here, will help me to get a permanent job.”

Photograph: Wesley Gordon, Jacqueline Skippers and Shireen Julius learning some cooking skills.


Emmanuel Nkoko (21) wanted to study civil technology, but his applications to a number of institutions were unsuccessful. But realising, like Arthur and Kenwood, that the workplace demands some kind of qualification, this programme was an opportunity he could not miss.

“Putting things together gives me a sense of achievement. When you work with wood you can create a number of things.”

He is also the bass guitarist for the band Blackout.

“The band is doing quite well and I love being involved with music. But I also believe one needs to expand one’s skills base. The more knowledge and skills you have, the more things you can achieve.”

A few kilometres away, the quiet of the Private Hotel School in Vlottenburg is quite a contrast to the busy Stellemploy workshop. Here 12 candidates are learning more about the hospitality industry and acquiring basic cooking skills. The food preparation component is accredited by City and Guilds.

Cooking is her life. And when she saw the advertisement that she could apply for the Mayoral Skills Development Programme, she immediately decided to act.

Jacqueline Skippers deftly whisks some batter in a bowl as she passionately says: “Cooking is my whole life. When I saw the advertisement that I could apply for the Mayoral Skills Development Programme, I just had to grab at this chance.

“I left school with only a grade 11 certificate. Since then I have felt like a failure. The Mayor’s Skills Development Programme which enabled me to do this cooking course, will change my life,” she says.

Wesley Gordon (19) says he is a great fan of cooking and baking programmes on TV.

“I have always loved baking and I hope that this course will be the foundation that will help me to eventually open my own bakery.”

Shireen Julius (22) believes this course has opened up a number of opportunities.

“I am learning so much. I like the cooking aspect, but I also like the fact that I have been introduced to other aspects of the hospitality industry. Although I love cooking, I would also like to be part of the front of house team at a hotel or restaurant.”

  • A video of the complete Youth Day event where the successful applicants were announced can be seen by clicking here or go to
  • Stellemploy was started 20 years ago by CEO Betta Augustyn. The goal was and still is to give unemployed people a chance to empower themselves through skills training. Training is offered in welding, gardening, painting, cooking, electrical repairs, carpentry, plumbing, building, paving, mechanics and spray-painting. Stellemploy can be contacted on 021 886 6993.
  • Bergzicht Training’s the mission is to inspire and empower disadvantaged people with little or no formal education by equipping them with the skills that they need to uplift themselves from impoverished circumstances. Courses offered include home management, frail care, edu-care and cater care. Contact them on 021 883 3525 or send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.