Pretoria — Over 1 000 unemployed youths have graduated from the Department of Correctional Services' Learnership Programme, and are now armed with skills that open up employment opportunities in the department.
The men and women, below the age of 35, successfully completed a one-year training programme in different aspects of correctional services.
The Correctional Service Learnership has been specially designed to develop the capacity of young learners with an interest and aspiration to join the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
The learnership is not only aimed at creating a pool of candidates from which the department can recruit for entry level posts, but it is a means for the DCS to contribute to the mandate of government to provide training and development opportunities to the youth of this country.
Delivering the keynote address at the graduation ceremony in Kroonstad, Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said: "Education is one of the top priorities of our government. The youth of our country must carry on with the task of nation building, and creating a prosperous South Africa.
"We are in dire need of dedicated, patriotic and action-oriented young intellectuals, who will contribute to building the kind of prosperous and successful society we envisage."
Ndebele congratulated the 1 012 young people, comprising an equal split of men and women.
"These individuals have gone through theoretical and practical training for one year in different aspects of correctional services - first at Kroonstad and Zonderwater Training Colleges and then at the various correctional centres throughout the country," he said.
Ndebele said in the public service, Correctional Services was one of the departments which contracted the highest number of learners through the Learnership Programme.
"Our department must be a leader in this programme, which is one of the pillars of the National Skills Development Strategy, not only to generate skills but also to alleviate poverty and unemployment to keep our youth away from crime and contribute to the development of our young people.
"We have invested a great deal in you during this learnership, and are therefore keen to see the return on our investment. We would like to employ all of you permanently, in line with our operational needs as well as the applicable appointment criteria.
"In the interim, you will remain on contract assignment at the various management areas until further notice," he said.
Ndebele said correctional officials must have several personality traits in order to deal with inmates and handle the stress of long hours in an institutional environment.
He said one of the most important traits for a successful correctional official was tact, or sensitivity, in knowing how to interact with others. He said officials must have an attitude of serving with excellence and display a principled and caring way attitude towards others.
These attributes include a principled display of qualities such as integrity, honesty and sound work practices, a willingness to adhere to the departmental code of conduct as well as disassociation with all forms of corruption and unethical conduct.