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13 September 2023 Media Release: Plans for Skills Centres in Knysna and George progressing

Media Release: Plans for Skills Centres in Knynsa and George progressing

For Immediate Release
13 September 2023

At the recent Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) highly successful Skills Mecca Skills Summit held on 13 July 2023 in Knysna, an innovative item on the programme allowed external stakeholders to present ideas on how to improve socio-economic circumstances for the unemployed, especially the youth, in their communities.  Two such proposals focused on skills centres in Knysna and George, although all local municipalities in the Graden Route expressed similar needs.

In Knysna two more meetings were held and with excellent collaborative leadership from the Knysna Business Chamber, the Knysna Municipality and the South Cape TVET College, the process is well underway. At least two very suitable sites with existing buildings that could easily be converted into classrooms and workshops could be home to skills centres.  A formal process has now started for the stakeholders to move towards long-term agreements subject to approvals from the various governance structures.

In George a similar positive approach was adopted with significant collaborative leadership between the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the George Municipality, Mr Michiel Burger , the Bonnievale 418 Trust and Jakes Gerwel Teknies Skool in Bonnievale, considered the model collaborative school in South Africa. A highlight was a site visit to the Jakes Gerwel School on Tuesday 12 September 2023, by the various role players. This process will now be led into a task team, co-led by the George Municipality and WCED to also move towards more formal processes.

The excellent leadership at local and district municipal level and the cooperation-collaboration from other stakeholders are proving to be a significant force in moving these process forward. These initiatives are set to benefit the unemployed and youth in general. The Garden Route Skills Mecca team will continue to support both processes administratively and where necessary, explore extending partnerships to support these two processes.

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



18 July 2023 Media Release: Garden Route Skills Mecca gaining momentum

Media Release: Garden Route Skills Mecca gaining momentum

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. This initiative is a partnering and collaborative approach with the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA).

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, at the Skills Summit, 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:

Feature image: GRDM Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen, GRDM Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu and the GRSM Coordinator and Dr Florus Prinsloo, with the team who ensured the Skills Summit, was a success.


3 July 2023 Media Release: Garden Route Skills Summit and Careers Festival to be hosted in Knysna

Media Release: Garden Route Skills Summit and Careers Festival to be hosted in Knysna

For immediate release
3 July 2023

Skills Summit 13 July 2023 – Knysna High School

The Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM), a product of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), together with stakeholders, will on 13 July 2023 host a Garden Route Skills Summit at the Knysna High School in Knysna. The event will host Provincial and National Government Departments, the various Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the Private Sector to deliberate and discuss progress made in relation to the implementation of the Skills Mecca. This is a by-invitation-only event.

The Summit further promises an opportunity for a few innovative proposals to be presented by stakeholders working with local municipalities on employment-based skills development projects, and give stakeholders the opportunity to debate on how they can take the Garden Route Skills Mecca to the next level of development.

Focus will also be given to the emerging Western Cape Provincial Growth for Jobs Strategy, Primary Focus area 7 – Improved Access to Economic Opportunities and Employability and how the Skills Mecca process can integrate the implementation of the strategy with the work already being done by the Skills Mecca. This will allow for the implementation of skills development projects that is aligned to the Garden Route Growth and Development Strategy.

The deliberations at the Summit will also feed into discussions that will be take place the next day at the Premier Council on Skills at the same venue, the Knysna High School.

Careers Festival 13 – 14 July 2023 – Knysna High School Sports Ground

Hosted by the Western Cape Community Education and Training College (WCCETC), the festival aims to give over 2000 unemployed individuals and school-going youth the opportunity to engage with SETAs, as well as public and private training providers.

With many local schools in Knysna and surrounds bringing their learners, the WCCETC expects to attract 32 exhibitors that have various training and personal development programmes available to eligible applicants.

This initiative by the Garden Route District Municipality and its Garden Route Skills Mecca is funded by Services SETA and is an open-to-the-public-event taking place at the Knysna High School.

“Garden Route District Municipality, Your route to prosperity”


Upcoming Garden Route DM Skills Summit – 7 February 2019

The Garden Route District Municipality, in collaboration with the B-municipalities in the district and the Western Cape Provincial Government, will be hosting the annual District Skills Summit on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in Stillbaai, a coastal town within the Hessequa Local Municipal region. 

This year’s summit follows a resolution taken at the 2018 Garden Route District Skills Summit held on 1 February 2018 in George, during which it was resolved to take the concept of a Garden Route Skills Mecca forward and review progress on an annual basis.   

The idea of a Skills Mecca originates from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), which followed the devastating fires that hit the district (Knysna/Plettenberg Bay) in June 2017.  Since last year’s summit, municipalities in the district, in collaboration with various stakeholders, among others, the Provincial Government,  progressively worked together in order to bring about and implement the Garden Route Skills Mecca concept.

The 2019 Skills Summit will focus mainly on the achievements of the previous year’s implementation of the summit resolutions. The “show and tell” (presentation/competition) will give municipalities an opportunity to showcase a project that was implemented within their respective municipal areas.

Another objective of the 2019 Skills Summit will be to discuss the progress of establishing the district-wide Skills Mecca made thus far,  and also to evaluate the resolutions  determined in 2018 towards  making the Garden Route a preferred pristine destination for learning in the country and continent.   

Other role-players involved are:

– MECs

– District Mayors

– District Municipal Managers

– Corporate Services Managers

– LED Managers

– Tourism Managers

– Skills Development Facilitator

– Youth Coordinators

– Various government departments

– Western Cape Government

– Local Businesses

– Garden Route Business Chambers

– Hessequa Business Chambers

– Local NGOs

The following resolutions were taken during the 2018 Skills Summit:

  • Continue and accelerate collaboration and cooperation among all district skills development role- players born out of the GRRI;
  • Become involved and add value to the Garden Route Skills Development Strategy for a Skills Mecca across the district;
  • Ensure that the Skills Mecca concept leverages digital infrastructure as far as possible, to ensure learning and processes methods are and remain cutting edge;
  • As far as possible, link Skills Development to Investment and Economic Development opportunities to the  advancement for all;
  • Ensure that all Skills Development processes in the Garden Route ALWAYS consider and proactively
  • considers Water – a Shared Resource.
  • Ensure that all current and emerging skills development intervention in each municipality is supported and built into the Skills Mecca concept;
  • Consider and where possible; efficiently and effectively include the skills needs of Municipality in the Garden Route District, in the development and roll out of the Skills Mecca;
  • Engage with all willing partners, in particular the SETAs and the National Skills Fund, in order to explore the development and implementation of projects across the District as an integral part of the Skills Mecca.
  • Consider and leverage local skilled people, including retired people, within the District, to accelerate the growth of the Skills Mecca; and
  • Within the next six months a new skills project is started within each of the six focus areas within at least one local municipality

Municipalities are expected to prepare and present a case study of an actual skills development project implemented within their municipality at this year’s Summit. A ten minute presentation will form part of a competition to determine the annual Garden Route Skills Mecca Champion for 2018.  Presentations will be evaluated by the delegates on the day of the event through a simple ballot system.  Each case study will be judged against three criteria:

  • Did the partnerships in the project add value? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project support transformation in a creative way? – Yes or No?
  • Did the project make learners more employable? – Yes or No?

The envisaged outcome of the Summit is to ‘’fine-tune” the resolutions from 2018 and develop ideas on how to accelerate implementation of the Skills Mecca in the Garden Route. The Skills Summit will be an annual event on a rotational basis; municipalities therefore also need to budget and plan towards this purpose. The 2018 Skills Summit attracted approximately 350 people and for this year, arrangements are being made to accommodate 250 – 300 people.

For more information contact the GRDM’s Training and Development Section, Mr Reginald Salmons at 044 803 1363. 

Building Smart Cities in a Smart Region

The concept of Smart Cities is gaining momentum in the Garden Route region and to unfold this theory, the Planning and Economic Department of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), in collaboration with the South Cape Economic Partnership (SCEP), hosted a Smart City – Smart Region Summit on Wednesday, 3 October 2018 in Bitou (Plettenberg Bay).  Representatives from all the municipalities in the Garden Route, in particularly, Local Economic Development, Tourism;  Infrastructure;  Waste Management;  Planning and ICT Specialists, as well as Private Sector Smart City experts; Town Planners; Technology experts and Tertiary Institutions Subject Specialists, attended the one-day event.

Councillor Peter Lobese, Executive Mayor of the Bitou Municipality welcomed all summit attendees and expressed his appreciation towards the GRDM for organising the Summit for the region.

During the workshop, very exciting and informative presentations were done by Subject Specialists, i.e. Dr Warren Burns from Brilliance;  Dr Nancy Odendaal from the University of Cape Town;  Ms Emiley Vollmer from ISC Bank and Mr Josiah Lodi from the Western Cape Department of Cooperative Governance.

Guided by the experts in attendance, municipalities of the region worked on defining what the concept Smart Cities means for them, and how best to maximise the benefits of smart thinking, to build a Smart Region.

One of the breakaway sessions during the summit with the facilitators, Mr Paul Hoffman (far left) from the SCEP and Ms Rushka Ely (right) from the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, Cape Town.

The afternoon’s programme was divided into two (2) sets of three (3) breakaway sessions, under the following topics:

First Session:  Smart living, Smart Waste Management and Smart Technology; and

Second Session: Smart Green, Smart Design and Smart Tourism

Some outcomes of the sessions include:

 Smart Living:

  • A pilot project in one community in the region to demonstrate all the 7 principles of “Smart Living”;
  • Increase density, accessible public transport and making the region cycle-friendly;
  • Develop a network of small-scale organic agriculture to supply local restaurants and retailers;
  • Integrated efforts for safety and security by the police, neighbourhood watches and private security companies;
  • Invite businesses to provide innovative solutions through existing forums to current smart living challenges; and
  • Spatial development for poor communities which will allow activities like gardening, etc.

Smart Waste

  • Regional programme for sensitizing residents and incentives for recycling;
  • Continue with the integrated approach between municipalities for alternative technologies; and
  • Waste-to-energy initiatives.

Smart Technology

  • An audit needs to be done on what exists that could be expanded or developed further;
  • Wayleave and trenching policies to be put in place; and
  • Coordination in terms of free Wi-Fi to be coordinated by die district- and local municipalities.

Smart Green

  • Lack of skills within municipalities to interrogate green solutions. Will be addressed through Green Cape Municipal Capacity Building Initiatives;
  • Interrogate current policy to create a more conducive/enabling environment; and
  • Inter-governmental approach to green solutions.

 Smart Design

  • Ensuring values, visions and policies that underpin smart city design, are in place;
  • Increase the focus on GIS skills and resources for smart cities;
  • Integration of data collection and maintenance processes and systems; and
  • Data access protocols that enable access across municipalities.

Smart Tourism

  • Wi-fi hotspots;
  • Regional public transport e.g. Uber;
  • Data collection and analytics for smart tourism; and
  • Smart training for the hospitality and tourism industry.

The organising team behind the successful and well-attend Smart Cities – Smart Region Summit. Fltr, Mr Denver Johnson, Tourism Officer, Mr Paul Hoffman, Project Manager of SCEP, Ms Melanie Wilson, Manager: Economic Development and Tourism, Ms Natalie Raubenheimer, Senior Economic Development Officer, Ms Amagene Koeberg, Co-ordinator: Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism, Ms Raylene Meyer, Administrative Officer: Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism, Ms Nadia Boumeester, Administrative Assistant: Economic Development and Mr Lusanda Menze, GRDM Executive Manager: Planning and Economic Development.

In his concluding remarks, the Municipal Manager of the GRDM, Mr Monde Stratu, expressed his appreciation to everyone who participated and who are willing to take the process forward in partnership with the Garden Route District Municipality.  “Let us adopt a vision to do things differently, collaborate and try to work together as a family of municipalities in building a smart region,” said Mr Stratu.

Big turnout at Day 1 of the Green Energy Summit

More than 140 delegates attended Day 1 of the Green Energy Summit at Fancourt in George. The purpose of the first engagement was to set the scene for Green Energy, debate issues and opportunities.

Green Energy Summit on Day 1 was well-attended.

Presentations were done by ‘Green Energy’ specialists from governmental institutions and the private sector. Speakers on day 1 included:

  • Western Cape Provincial Energy Security Game Changer
    – Dr Hildegarde Fast
  • Green Cape
    – Mr Jack Radmore
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Energy Centre
    – Dr Clinton Carter-Brown
  • InovaSure
    – Mr Jaco de la Rouviere
  • Independent Power Producer (IPP) Projects Office
    – Ms Lolette Kritzinger-van Niekerk 
  • Green Building Council South Africa
    – Mr Grahame Cruickshanks
  • Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning
    – Ms Lize Jennings-Boom 
  • Nelson Mandela University / uYilo
    – Mr Hiten Parmar 
  • Centre of Renewable & Sustainable Energy Studies, Stellenbosch University
    – Ms Karin Kritzinger 
  • South African Local Government Association
    – Mr Ryan Roberts 
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
    – Mr Christopher Gross 
  • PowerX
    – Mr Derek Batte 
  • Microcare Solar
    – Mr Gareth Burley 
  • George Local Municipality – Various Green Energy initiatives
    – Mr Steyn van der Merwe
  • Thebe Solar Energy 75MW Dysselsdorp Solar PV Project
    – Mr Gert Linde
  • MBH Energy, Biomass to Energy project in George
    – Mr Karl Siege 
  • Biowise, Bio Mimicary
    – Ms Sue Swain 
All presentations of Day 1 of the Summit are accessible here:
In summing-up day one of the Summit, the audience was given the opportunity to raise important questions to speakers about points of clarity.

Municipal Manager, Executive Managers and Strategic Manager of Eden District Municipality at the Green Energy Summit which is currently underway at Fancourt, George. Fltr, are: Mr Clive Africa (Executive Manager: Department Community Services), Mr Monde Stratu (Municipal Manager), Ms Louise Hoek (Executive Manager: Department Financial Services), Mr Thembani Loliwe (Strategic Manager), Ms Trix Holtzhausen (Executive Manager: Department Corporate Services) and Mr Lusanda Menze (Executive Manager: Department Planning and Economic Development).