As part of the presidential economic stimulus plan, the South African national biodiversity institute (SANBI) has been able to provide about 500 temporary employment opportunities.
Of these, the Pretoria botanical gardens and zoo provided employment to 90 people from the region.
SANBI national botanical gardens director Thompson Mutshinyalo said the institute was funded with R18-million to provide jobs to 500 people throughout the country as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to revive the economy and provide much-needed jobs.
Mutshinyalo said thousands flocked to their doors seeking to be part of the 500, at the 11 botanical gardens and two zoological gardens.
“It was saddening to see so many people looking for jobs, it showed the picture of unemployment rates and how many people are seeking for job opportunities.
“Many of the candidates were young, qualified graduates seeking employment, which was very surprising for us. The response shows the importance of these initiatives in our communities and shows that more of these are needed,” he said.
Mutshinyalo said the initiative was also aimed at clearing maintenance backlog at the institutions while also reviving the economy following Covid-19 lockdown that saw economy plummeting and many losing their jobs.
“During the lockdown all our gardens went to a lockdown and only few people were left, this sees us now having a lot of work to ensure our gardens look their best.
“Heading to the holiday season, the gardens play an important role in our local tourism for our locals to enjoy nature. We needed to make sure that our gardens are aesthetically pleasing to the public so they can continue visiting and this initiative will help us to achieve this.”
The temporary initiative started earlier this month and would end in March next year.
“So far we are only implementing the programme to take place for five months, only for this financial year and we are not sure about what the future will hold,” he said.
“This initiative will really assist those who are most vulnerable in our community such as women and the youth. Many of the women are breadwinners for their families and when they have a job, it will have an impact in financially lifting many of these families.
‘“Stats show us one person’s salary in the South African context supports so many in a family structure, and employing 58% of women, we are assured that many families will benefit.”
One of the beneficiaries, young eco-system and management soon-to-be-graduate Dimakatso Malau, said the she was honoured to have had a job in her field of study as she needed practical training to graduate.
“As a country we are going through the most difficult times and jobs do not come easy, to have this opportunity will be key in giving me practical skills for the enhancement of career is really humbling.”
Ipeleng Mosime, who completed his studies in electrical engineering in 2016, said the programme would assist in equipping him with practical skills he needed.
“I feel blessed to have this job, this will assist in critical training of electrical maintenance skills. Since completing my studies, I have been looking for training and employment without much luck, but late last year I got a learnership. Unfortunately, it was distracted by the lockdown, before we could get tested.
“But with this opportunity giving me more training I can get the experience I need in the furthering of my studies.”
Mosime said he hoped to prolong his stay at the botanical gardens as it exposed him to a different side of his career and biodiversity.
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