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North West awards 23 enviro interns - 11 March 2008

Mafikeng - The North West Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment is to award certificates to 23 interns who successfully completed a 12-month internship programme on environmental management.

The programme, which was introduced for the first time in the province last year, is part of the provincial strategy to set up a pool of young graduates in the field of environmental management and empower them with practical skills.

During the course of the programme interns received special training on the principles of ecological rehabilitation and mine closure, environmental law and the implementation of environmental management system at the centre for environmental management in the North West University’s Potchefstroom Campus.

Agriculture, Conservation and Environment MEC Jan Serfontein said the department values the contribution made by these young and energetic specialists, and he hopes the province will benefit from their learning experience.

“These specialised fields are regarded as essential and the most needed skill countrywide, as a result of the current situation.

“The department hopes to maintain their working relation with both the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Danish International Development Agency, which is the main programme sponsor, to ensure that this skill gap is closed," said Mr Serfontein.

He further said that after the completion of the programme, the department will permanently appointed six of the interns.

The others will be recruited by other provinces including municipalities and industries such as Lafarge.

During the opening of the legislature on 15 February, North West Premier, Edna Molewa said the provincial government is to place 3 000 youth in the National Youth Service programme aimed at alleviating unemployment in the province.

Ms Molewa said the province aimed to place volunteers in various community development activities and increase youth participation in national programmes that enhance social cohesion.

"The vulnerability of our youth to disease and susceptibility to alcohol and substance abuse is perpetuated by the fact that our youth are often either unemployed or have no opportunities to participate in meaningful activities,” she said.

Through the programme, the province managed to skill 1 040 unemployed in 2007 through the Expanded Public Works Programme, Conservation Management, Heritage Management, Information and Communication Technology, Adult Basic Education and Training, Road Safety Management and construction.

By Gabi Khumalo - BuaNews