Environmental and biodiversity organisations are invited to participate in a R300-million government-sponsored funded human capacity development programme, Groen Sebenza Phase II, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) said on 22 June 2022.

The programme, Groen Sebenza Phase II, is led by SANBI and aims to secure in-service training for unemployed graduates from disadvantaged communities and so improve the environmental and biodiversity sector’s skills base, which research has found faces a shortage of critical workplace skills and experience.

Groen Sebenza Phase II follows the success of the first Groen Sebenza, which ran from 2013 to 2015 and ultimately saw more than 600 of the young people taken on under the programme land full-time employment. Groen Sebenza trainees, termed “pioneers” under the programme, spend three years with a programme partner – a government department, non-governmental or private sector organisation.

“Our programme partners gain the advantage of a young and keen graduate working with them, while our pioneers gain valuable skills over a long period. Feedback from the employers is that the young people recruited to be pioneers have a competitive edge over their peers,” says SANBI’s CEO, Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi.

Groen Sebenza Phase II draws on the lessons learned in the first phase and aims to strengthen partner organisations through transformation and other organisational development initiatives so that partners are better able to work towards realising their own visions and plans. Mentors are trained to help the pioneers. Another benefit for the environmental and biodiversity sector is that Groen Sebenza will pursue the development of a “live” skills intelligence system that will enable the sector to better understand their skills needs, proactively plan for the development and deployment of such skills thus ensuring that appropriate skills exist throughout the pipeline.

The pioneers placed with organisations will be skilled graduates who will have their knowledge and confidence developed through the programme, widening the pool of skilled people available to the environmental and biodiversity sector and improving scientific and managerial knowledge and skills in the sector. The pioneers’ contributions will improve biodiversity knowledge through monitoring and other scientific undertakings, which will ultimately improve the well-being of South Africa’s citizens, and in some cases the well-being of people beyond our borders.

The pioneers will in turn gain technical and occupation-specific skills, as well as important life skills such as computer literacy, workplace communication, leadership and project management skills. This can lead to their securing permanent positions and contributing long term to a sector that is the backbone of every other sector in South Africa.

Without natural resources such as clean water and clean air, South Africa cannot grow crops, husband livestock, or manufacture medicines, chemicals or other industrial materials. The country’s natural resources include one of the world’s richest mineral endowments, which is the reason for the mining and heavy industry sectors. Also, South Africa’s natural resources help to protect people from natural disasters such as floods and droughts and are the backbone of a vibrant tourism industry.

The funds for Groen Sebenza Phase II have been set aside by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). Organisations interested in becoming host organisations need to fill in an expression of interest form – available on the SANBI website under the tab ‘Opportunities’ at the top. The closing date for expression of interest is Friday 08 July 2022. The DFFE has stipulated that that 100% of the beneficiaries be unemployed youth (18-35), 90% of them be black, 70% of them female and 2% of them people with disabilities.

More information can be found on the SANBI website, here

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