Just Grace NPC’s Impact Through the Social Employment Fund

Youth Month is a significant time in South Africa, dedicated to recognising and celebrating the potential, achievements, and contributions of the youth. In this blog, we highlight Just Grace NPC’s participation in the Social Employment Fund (SEF) project and its success in empowering young people in under-resourced communities.

With a focus on academic support, skills development, and creating employment opportunities, Just Grace NPC has made a deep impact on the lives of many young South Africans. 

Over 70% of South African children attend schools in Quintile 1-3 (low to no-fee schools). These schools face numerous challenges, including inadequate resources and overcrowded classrooms. Alarmingly, about 40% of learners in these schools are at the right age for their grade level, indicating that 60% are struggling to keep up. This educational disparity highlights the urgent need for interventions that support academic achievement and prevent school dropouts. 

The After School Sector plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges and more. The sector helps children meet grade-level expectations and focuses on helping secondary school learners reach and pass matric on time. Beyond education, the sector has emerged as a key youth employer, offering young people from under-resourced communities opportunities for skill development and employment. 

The Learning Trust, through the Social Employment Fund (SEF), supports various organisations in the sector to create meaningful employment opportunities.  

These opportunities enable young people to gain relevant work experience for better employment opportunities and encourages them to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. The SEF has been instrumental in this effort, providing funds to support young people in their growth and development. 

Bringing back hope 

Just Grace NPC, based in the Western Cape, has been a participant in the SEF project since 2022. Just Grace has leveraged the SEF project to scale its operations and enhance human capacity within the organisarion. This support has been invaluable for both the organisation and the community it serves. 

Leona Chabata, Head of Programmes, shares that participating in the SEF project has been an enriching experience. “For the unemployed community members, the programme has been a lifeline, offering them opportunities for training and work experience. Our programme beneficiaries now receive more personalised and improved services, thanks to the increased support. Additionally, the community benefits as some issues arising from high unemployment are addressed meaningfully,” she says. 

Empowering Youth Through Skills Development 

The SEF project has also fostered increased community involvement in various activities, highlighting its positive impact. Just Grace has implemented several initiatives to prepare youth for future employment opportunities, focusing on skills development, academic support, psychosocial support, professional and personal development, and community engagement. Some of these efforts include:

  • Targeted Training for SEF Participants: Just Grace provides specific skills training relevant to each course, enhancing employability in practical and marketable skills such as barista training, sewing, and basic accounting. 
  • Ongoing Skill Enhancement: Continuous professional development to ensure facilitators and assistants stay current with industry standards and effectively teach their respective skills. 
  • Tutor Training:  Just grace offers training for tutors including subject matter expertise, facilitation, and administrative assistance skills, enabling high-quality academic support. 
  • Enhanced Learning Environment: Tutors create a supportive and structured environment, crucial for learners’ academic performance and future opportunities. 
  • Counselling and Facilitation: Social Auxiliary Workers receive training in counselling, facilitation, and conducting home visits, addressing psychosocial issues that hinder academic and personal development. 
  • Workplace Readiness: Just Grace provides training such as professional etiquette, communication skills, and time management, essential for workplace success. 
  • Personal Growth: Emphasis on self-confidence, resilience, and a growth mindset prepares participants for professional challenges. 
  • Real-World Application: Community engagement activities provide practical experience and insights into real-world applications of skills. 
  • Networking Opportunities: Interactions with community members, local businesses, and professionals expand participants’ networks, aiding in employment opportunities. 

A Success Story: Asavela’s Journey 

One of the shining examples of Just Grace’s success through the SEF Programme is the story of Asavela. Initially a beneficiary of the skills training programme, Asavela quickly excelled in sewing. After completing his training, he secured employment at a partner sewing factory, where he honed his skills further. 

When the previous sewing facilitator retired, Asavela expressed interest in the position. Given his impressive track record and dedication, Just Grace offered him the role. Since June of last year, Asavela has successfully run the sewing classes, inspiring others with his journey from a beneficiary to a facilitator. 

“Through SEF, I’ve been steadily improving in how I interact with my students. I’m learning new ways to communicate effectively and teach them better. This has been incredibly valuable because it’s not just about having skills but also about how you share those skills with others,” says Asavela.   

Just Grace NPC’s participation in the SEF project highlights the incredible potential of young South Africans when given the right support and opportunities. By focusing on holistic development, skills training, and community engagement, Just Grace is not only improving educational outcomes but also creating pathways to employment and personal growth. 

Read more on the youth month series here and here.