International Youth Day: Youth Cafés empowering young people

Albert Fritz MPL

Western Cape Minister of Social Development

As we mark the United Nations International Youth Day, the Western Cape Provincial Government is proud to be playing a leading role in the empowerment and advancement of young people between 14-25 years living in the province.

The advancement of youth requires a whole-of-society approach. Our aim is to ensure that by the age of 25, youth in the province have all the tools they need to take advantage of their opportunities.

It is for this reason that, for the first time, the province has a comprehensive youth development strategy. Launched in April this year, it is inclusive of the private sector, NGOs, and young people themselves.

This is a strategy we are putting into practice in a number of key projects such as the Chrysalis Academy, the Extended Public Works Programmes, the Premiers Advancement of Youth programme, and our flagship initiative the Youth Cafés.

The Department of Social Development has established two Youth Cafés so far. The first in Rocklands, Mitchell Plain was launched in January, and the Athlone Youth Café opened in July this year. Both are notching up some impressive successes.

Over 946 young people have registered at the cafés, in order to access its skills development services and support, to which an average of 100 young people visit the Cafés daily.

The Cafés are creating opportunity and empowering young people who are accessing the space, and to date have seen;

  • The development of 380 training programmes and workshops, with a combined attendance of 7348 people,
  • 401 young people accessed jobs, internships or become entrepreneurs.

The Youth Cafés are run in partnership with R-Labs, an NGO dedicated to youth development. Some of the training sessions offered at the Cafés include the Grow Leadership Academy (a 12-week programme), an entrepreneurship workshop, courses in web and graphic design, job readiness workshops, and an HIV course.

Young people register and through participating in activities offered, earn “Zlato”, a virtual currency used at Cafés, to access things like the internet, the coffee stations, training courses, seminars, etc.

To expand access, the Department is currently in discussion with various private sector partners to extend the use of Zlato to services such a public transport.

It is encouraging to note the positive involvement of young people at the Youth Cafés. 65% of staff are ex-students from the Youth Café, and currently 12 youth are employed at the Cafés.

The Department will be rolling out the Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction this financial year. The Nyanga Junction Café will include a sport component linked to a MOD Centre, and will be fully accessible to people with physical disabilities.

As we commemorate International Youth Day, we will continue to create to work with our partners in the private sector and NGOs to create a space for young people to access opportunity and use their talents. However young people need to play their part too, and access the Youth Cafés to empower themselves. This is what we mean by youth development being best achieved “Better Together”.