Rhodes University welcomes 62 interns as part of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative

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Vice Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, flanked by the newly appointed interns. From left to right: Sinalo Kinzela, Lian May, Kaylin Jonas, Professor Mabizela, Pumelela Nako, Siyanda Buthelezi and Lwandle Yawa. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, flanked by the newly appointed interns. From left to right: Sinalo Kinzela, Lian May, Kaylin Jonas, Professor Mabizela, Pumelela Nako, Siyanda Buthelezi and Lwandle Yawa. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, welcomed 62 graduates to campus last week as they joined the University as part of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) programme.

The PYEI is a part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme. It is a multi-sector action plan directed at addressing South Africa’s ongoing youth unemployment challenge. According to Statistics South Africa, of the 1.2 million young people entering the labour market each year, more than 65% remain outside of employment. The PYEI has identified several priority interventions to accelerate youth pathways into the economy over the next five years.

Professor Mabizela said Rhodes University is proud and honoured to be part of this important national initiative to address a real challenge for the youth of our country. “The University has planned training activities and programmes which will not only enhance the prospects of employment but also improve the employment readiness of our interns. Each intern has been assigned a mentor who will see to their full development and growth during the period of their internship,” said Professor Mabizela.

The Vice-Chancellor said the PYEI can not address the challenges of youth unemployment on its own. He said: “The country must unite and address all the economic structural problems that have stifled job creation. We must create meaningful and sustainable job opportunities for our youth. We must address issues of quality of education from early childhood development and education to tertiary education. Our economy is in dire need of young people with artisanal skills. The TVET Colleges must play their rightful role in producing these skills. We must encourage entrepreneurship among the youth so they can create employment opportunities. As a nation, we have a duty to look after our youth. We cannot and dare not let them down. There is no dignity in poverty and unemployment, nor is there any virtue in poverty and unemployment. These lead to social exclusion, disengagement, frustration, hopelessness and despair,” explained Professor Mabizela.

One of the interns, 22-year-old Sinokholo Minentle Njombela from Makhanda, who holds a Bachelor of Arts honors in Anthropology from Nelson Mandela University, said: “I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity because it will prepare me for the workplace. I feel like there is a lot that I am going to learn.”

Lian May, a Rhodes University graduate who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political and International Studies and Honors in Politics and Political and International Studies, said when she received the offer, she decided to take a break from her studies as she was busy with Masters. “I believe this opportunity is really a step into formal employment and will serve as a guidance and preparation for me for full employment. I am glad I was chosen to be part of this initiative because I know that so many people applied, and I was chosen. I am even happy to be placed in the International Office as it goes hand in hand with my studies,” she said.   

Twenty-four year old Luchwayito Vena, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Rhodes University, said he was grateful for the opportunity to be prepared for the workplace by his alma mater. “I believe that, after my internship, I will be a fully-fledged professional, ready for the workplace,” said Vena.

People and Culture (formerly Human Resources) Director, Susan Robertson advised the interns to make the best of their time at Rhodes University. “You must always challenge the status quo, keep pushing the boundaries, and see how far you can go. We are not always comfortable with change, but it is inevitable,” she said.

The interns have been allocated to 35 Rhodes University departments, comprising 26 support departments and nine academic departments. Of the 62 interns, 41 are female, and 21 are male. Seventy per cent of the interns are Rhodes University graduates. The internship is for six months (from 01 June 2023 to 30 November 2023) and is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, managed by Universities South Africa, and Rhodes University is the host.

Professor Mabizela thanked all the mentors who have taken it upon themselves to take the interns under their wing and ensure that their internship period is an important opportunity for personal growth and development for interns. “Rhodes University is raising its hand to assist in addressing youth unemployment. We want to give our youth a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. We are honoured to be part of this internship initiative,” concluded Professor Mabizela.