Project gives skilled youth added oomph

Jacqui Kraak is teaching youth how to become 'employable'.

With the country’s high youth unemployment, Jacqui Kraak, of Grassy Park, is on a mission to teach young people skills.

She started a school called Ukaphela (to be well), where she offers a free eight to 12-week self leadership course for students, at the Good Shepherd Church, in Grassy Park.

Ms Kraak said the challenge is that youth who do have skills remain unemployable as they lack etiquette and the ability to promote their unique talent and skills. She said it has been her long-term goal to create a platform to teach self leadership.

“The key objective is to guide, assist and to provide tools to the youth to apply their skills and critically prepare them for the formal workplace. The end in mind is employment,” said Ms Kraak.

She said the approach is holistic with emphasis on self development.

“How do I engage and interact in a formal workspace”, and “How do I apply my skill and talent” are just two of the topics she tackles.

Ms Kraak noticed the need for youth empowerment while she was working as a general manager at a well-known retail store.

“I interviewed many people and noticed that youth especially, cannot articulate themselves. Some have the skill but cannot get a job due to that.”

She said she was shocked when she met a man who had been unemployed for 25 years.

“I realised I needed to help this generation and make people employable. I started this grooming school, Ukhupela,” she said.

Two of her students told Southern Mail how the programme has changed them.

Meagan Nicholas, 22, completed her degree at the University of Cape Town last year. “I did a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Industrial Sociology, Organisational Psychology and Social Development. I am in the process of seeking employment so to gain work experience. With a course of this nature, and with the guidance of Ms Kraak, I am able to determine what employers seek in employees and also how we can further develop our individual qualities and skill set to be successful in our careers. I truly believe that one is never too old to learn and you can never learn enough because the more you know, the more you are able to do.”

She said although they have had a few sessions so far, they have already allowed her to critically think about what leadership really is and how you define the term leadership. “This course provides a stimulating space as it allows you to engage with fellow individuals on the topics at hand and allows for great discussion. To ultimately know how you truly are as a leader and the qualities needed to lead positively, the course has taught me that you first have to know who you truly are before you are able to lead effectively.”

In preparation for an interview, Ms Nicholas said: “I have also learnt that how you project yourself and what you project to those you come into contact with play a great role in how you are seen as an individual. This stands critical especially as we as young people seek to embark into the world of work.”

She said by having your goals and objectives set out you are constantly striving to achieve them. “I have also learnt the importance of having a mission and knowing your individual purpose, as this is what defines you and defines how you live your life,” said Ms Nicholas.

Joshua Woolward, 22, is an “aspiring” 100m and 200m track athlete and works as a fitness instructor and part-time athletics coach.

“I will start by saying at first I was reluctant to attend (the course), I couldn’t help get the feeling the course being a pity party for those attending it, but at the first session Jacqui made it very clear that this course is aimed at self improvement, irrespective of your current position in life. This fact was apparent when meeting and speaking to everyone else attending the weekly sessions. I could pick up that everybody has their own personal goals and ambitions but the one thing that brought us there was the need or want to improve and grow our own skills holistically.”

He said he thinks Ms Kraak is a brilliant mentor and guide, and she has an abundance of knowledge and experience. “I definitely think the future holds many success stories for those part of this journey and hope more young people will realise how much they could benefit from being part of this course and join.”

Ms Kraak’s next workshop will be on Thursday August 11 and is free.

For more information, contact Ms Kraak on 061 124 2683.