South Africa: Building New Roads to Brighter Futures

Publication Date: 
January 10, 2017

In South Africa, nearly 66 percent of the population is under the age of 30 and millions of people still struggle to survive on less than $1 per day. Opportunities for youth to find long-term employment are increasingly sparse, for their own futures, as well as the future of their country. Thus, a new partnership between the Salesian Institute Youth Project and Porsche automobiles in Cape Town was born.

Called the “Porsche Aftersales Vocational Education Program,” the initiative will unlock professional opportunities for 75 disadvantaged youth during the next three years. They will be trained as automobile mechanics for Porsche models and for sister brands including Audi, Volkswagon, and Bentley. LSM Distributors, South Africa’s Porsche importer, will provide the practical training -- with curriculum, teaching, and testing assistance from the Salesian Institute. 

"We know from experience that education empowers youth with the knowledge and skills they need to pull themselves out of poverty and rediscover their dignity," says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. "That's why innovative partnerships and projects like these are so necessary.” 

“An education with a strong foundation is the key to success,” agrees Toby Venter, LSM Distributors’ owner. “Sadly, there are too many people in this country who drop out of their training courses because they don’t see any prospects for employment. We want to encourage and accompany them each step of the way. I am confident that participants will emerge from this comprehensive 24-month program with a stronger sense of self-confidence -- one that will enable them to seize the opportunities that come their way.”

Area youth interested in the program may follow one of three potential routes. Applicants meeting all prerequisites for the training may immediately enter the two-year course. Those who fall short in some areas must first complete a six- to eight-week life skills training session at Don Bosco Salesian Institute’s Youth Projects center. 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.

When the first group of students successfully completes the two-year program, Mr. Venter plans to hire them -- and this is no empty promise. During the past 21 years, Porsche South Africa has trained and ultimately hired more than 76 apprentices -- many of whom have earned high-level promotions within the company.

Since 1910, the Salesian Institute has been providing education and workforce development services for hundreds of South Africa’s at-risk youth each year. The Porsche Aftersales Vocational Educational Program continues 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.

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