Friday is not just the start of a long weekend, but a day honouring the youth of South Africa on the anniversary of the start of the Soweto uprising on June 16, 1976.

However, more than 40 years on, South Africa’s education system is still failing many youth – with a youth unemployment rate of more than 50% at the end of 2016.

“The youth unemployment rate in South Africa is startlingly high – and this is something we as individuals, as organisations, and as corporates need to work towards changing,” says CEO of the Relate Trust Neil Robinson.

The Relate Trust puts its money where its mouth is in this regard, their primary purpose is to provide opportunities for typically uneducated and unskilled youth by employing more than 20 young individuals as part of the production team that make Relate bracelets in support of nearly 100 charitable causes.

The young bracelet makers at Relate play a vital role and are a key component as to why the social enterprise exists in the first place. The youngsters earn an income and are upskilled in their chosen careers so that they can work sustainably to become independent and move on beyond Relate.

Whether their wish is to become a business owner, a paramedic, a beauty therapist, or anything else, they are put through the necessary training to achieve their goal.  

Julia Gagu, for example, graduated with a Building and Civil Engineering diploma that she achieved with assistance from Relate. She has recently successfully completed her Code 10 driver’s license and is now actively seeking an internship with a construction company in pursuit of her dream.

Siziwe Nyongo’s dream is to start her own dress-making business. Through long-time Relate partner the Amy Foundation she has been taking sewing classes, and has started to design and make her own clothes. She has also become a supervisor at the Amy Foundation, assisting other young hopefuls with their sewing and craft making skills.

Former Relate employee Sibusiso Ntisana was fortunate enough to be chosen to apply for a Trainee Manager internship at retailer Pick ‘n Pay. Relate assisted him in preparing for the assessment and, with determination and persistence, he was accepted for the programme. Trainees learn about all areas of the business, from fresh produce to floor management and much more. He will also attend various leadership and management courses through the programme. It is now up to him to use this opportunity to better his future.

Busisiwe Nonqoza recently gained her Basic Ambulance Assistant certificate as well as her Code 10 driver’s license. She then completed her 1000 hours internship at the Gugulethu Day Hospital where she worked in departments including the Trauma Unit Volunteer: Triage Room, Asthma Room, and Medical Emergency Unit. Relate is now helping her find a permanent position as an Ambulance Assistant to help her fulfil her dream.

Having long dreamed of a career in the beauty industry, Kattie Mkula is now a trained lash technician and is now looking to start her own lash extensions business after learning the art of lashing from successful lash artist Mandy Figg from Lashes by Mandy.

“I firmly believe that more businesses need to be coming up with solutions to help the youth get into the workforce and succeed. We don’t have time to lose. Change needs to be implemented now to secure a future for the young people of South Africa,” says Robinson.  

Every Relate bracelet helps fund skills programmes for South African youth. To support and positively impact the future of our youth, buy a Relate bracelet from selected stores nationwide: Woolworths, Poetry, Old Khaki, Tourvest Destination Retail, Cape Union Mart, Sorbet Salons, and Clicks. 

To visit Relate's online shop click here.