Making artisan training available to all

Jeremy Petersen, the chairperson of the Heideveld Skill Development Outreach Project, speaks to the class about electrical safety gear.

A Heideveld organisation is offering free artisan training to make young people employable and help them build their own businesses.

The Heideveld Skill Development Outreach Project was launched in January, after its founders, Jeremy Petersen and the late Whaleed Hanneke came up with the idea in 2019. It was registered as a non-profit organisation in August last year.

“We realised that there is not much opportunity for the youth,” Mr Petersen said. “Many from our area are either caught up in gangsterism or drugs, and the high school drop-out rate is too high. This leaves many of them with very limited prospects.”

While the training is aimed at the youth, there is no age limit for those wanting to do the courses in plumbing, electrical, bricklaying and other building skills, as well as painting. They hope to introduce welding soon and get the courses accredited.

“We do two months of theory, one month of practical, and then we try to get them to work for companies in order to gain experience. We are also looking at the work the community needs to be done. For example, a resident might need the services of a painter, a plumber or an electrician.”

He encouraged women and those who had been busy raising their children and now found themselves in their mid-forties to join the classes.

So far, the organisation has been running without any kind of funding. Treasurer Judy Ruiters and marketing co-ordinator Ra’eesa Petersen-Adams have appealed for help with materials they need for training. Ms Ruiters has started a take-away to support the fund-raising efforts.

Trainee Shaye Bennett, 26, who has been unemployed for a year, thanked Mr Petersen and the rest of the executive for what they are doing.

“I dropped out of school when I was in Grade 11, and I am so sorry about that now. I am currently enquiring about completing my Grade 12, while I do the training here. I opened my eyes too late to see the value in education. Now I am encouraging my younger siblings about its importance. I am lucky to be afforded this second chance.”

Oswald Settee, another trainee, said: “Skills development is not free anywhere. Sometimes you have to pay thousands of rand for it. Here we get it for free. We need this. If our government can support this, I am sure it will be a success. These classes are opening doors for us. Some of us have been unemployed for up to five years, and we are here to uplift ourselves. The other positive thing about it is that the community won’t have to look outside the area for this kind of service. I am so excited about this opportunity.”

Levona Schoeman, 65, said that as a pensioner she wanted to learn new skills to keep busy.

“The knowledge we acquire here is not only to secure a job out there, but we can also apply it in our own houses,” Ms Schoeman said.

If you can assist with funding, materials, or job placement, or would like to register for a course, contact Melisssa Engelbrecht at 067 813 9843, Mr Petersen at 061 309 4881, or on WhatsApp at 062 156 9550 or Ms Petersen-Adams at 078 847 5994 or Ms Ruiters at 073 107 3670.

Some of the executive committee of the Heideveld Skill Development Outreach, are, from left, Judy Ruiters, Ra’eesa Petersen-Adams, Jeremy Petersen and Melissa Engelbrecht.
Wahieda Abdurahman and Jocelyn Spogter prepared snacks for the trainees. Ms Spogter holds one-year-old Maya Maarman.