For Immediate Release
18 July 2023

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) socio-economic programme known as the Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) held its third Skills Summit and inaugural Career Festival in Knysna last week from 13 – 14 July 2023. The Garden Route Skills Summit was attended by more than 200 delegates, who included several high-profile partners that will greatly benefit the Garden Route.

The Summit commenced with GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, introducing Home Based Care Personal Assistants to the attendees. They delivered testimonies of their experiences in their theoretical and work-based learning environments.

Home-based care practitioners with Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu (front) and other municipal representatives at the Garden Route Skills Summit.

The GRSM is grounded in its partnerships that allow the organisation or individuals to partner with the GRSM for future skills development programs and services.

The four (4) critical partners of the Garden Route Skills Mecca and beneficiaries of the GRSM included:

  • The Western Cape Education Department, in particular, the Eden and Central Karoo District.
  • The Western Cape Community Education and Training College
  • The Services Sector Education and Training Authority
  • The Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism

Through these partnerships an ongoing development programme that now integrates the schooling system and the community college structures more strongly into the Skills Mecca can be embarked on. This is new and exciting ground for the Skills Mecca as the programme expands across the Garden Route region.

Alderman Memory Booysen, during his address at the Skills Summit said: “We are on the right trajectory.”

“We will achieve success if we stay focused-driven, while keeping our vision, short-term and medium-terms in mind as we move forward.”

The Skills Summit allowed for a review of the Skills Mecca process and at least three new proposed solutions emerged that will need to be taken further by the Skills Mecca team:

  • All learners in the Skills Mecca programme should be tracked and traced after their programmes to determine how many gain employment;
  • The 4 local municipalities that have not to date hosted a Skills Summit – Bitou, Mossel Bay, Kannaland and Oudtshoorn – will be asked to submit formal proposals for the next Skills Summit in 2025;
  • A formal high-level District Coordination Forum process will be embarked upon (involving Mayors and Municipal Managers) to bring more local private sector businesses and their respective chambers and associations into the Skills Mecca process.

A new and innovative feature of the Garden Route Skills Summit was the inclusion of presentations from external stakeholders linked to business chambers or learning / employment opportunities in the Garden Route who are in support of the Skills Mecca. Five (5) such presentations were made that included:

The Skills Mecca has grown and developed over the last few years but the Summit clearly indicated that the concept needs to be taken to the next level. To give direction to that process, the Executive Mayor of the District Municipality, Alderman Memory Booysen tabled with delegates a plan to take the Skills Mecca to the next level that included a new logo and branding, a “Skills Mecca” copyright as well as the first-ever proposed vision and mission for the Skills Mecca.

According to Dr Florus Prinsloo, the GRSM Coordinator, “the Summit delegates endorsed all these proposals and they will be taken to the GRDM Council before being officially launched in the near future”.

The last part of the summit was then dedicated to a discussion and “workathon”. This segment focused on the Provincial Growth for Jobs Strategy (G4J) with a special emphasis on Priority Focus Area 7 – Improved Access to Economic Opportunities and Employability. During the various breakaway sessions, each of the seven local municipalities and the District Municipality considered the various interventions proposed under ‘Focus of Priority Focus Area 7’. The idea was for each breakaway group to identify possible existing or new projects that could drive the implementation of that intervention, forward. This work will now be taken into the various Skills Indaba processes at each local municipality and at the District level to ensure on-the-ground implementation.

While the above constructive work was in progress at the Summit, in parallel over two-days, 800 school-going youth and members and unemployed members of Knysna and surrounds attended the inaugural Career Festival. At this event, SETAs and training providers offered the attendees opportunities for exploring further learning and development.

The Garden Route Skills Summit also served as an introductory event for the Premier Council on Skills (PCS) that was held the next day on 14th July 2023 . It was the first time for the PCS to be held in Knysna.

“We need all hands-on-deck to keep our municipalities in our province functional through continuous skills development. And we should be competitive among ourselves.” Memory Booysen, Garden Route District Mayor, told the PCS.

For all the presentations and final skills summit report, browse here

For a gallery of the day’s activities, browse here: