Tackling Youth Unemployment in South Africa: An interview with Luthando Kolwapi

Youth Time sits down with EDU-PLETT founder, Luthando Kolwapi, to discuss his work inspiring young people in South Africa into employment.

Luthando Kolwapi is a passionate youth activist from the South African province, Western Cape, seeking to create vocational work experiences for unemployed youth and up-skilling through education and training. 

Kolwapi, is Founder and Non-Executive Chairperson of EDU-PLETT, an organization with the core objective youth development through bridging the gap between secondary education and higher learning. 

He started the organisation back in 2014, and in this interview for Youth Time elaborates the work they do with the organisation and how it works every day to give back the hope of employment to young people. 

Today, almost seven years after the organisation’s inception, Edu-Plett has managed to train over 400 participants, and has offered many skills from agriculture, office administration, community care workers, plumbing skills and many more. 

He started Edu-Plett when he was still in university, with the objective to use skills and education training in order to equip young people for employment or starting their own businesses. 

“The vision here is for the interventions to try and reduce the high rate of unemployment in South Africa.” he initially explains. 

Edu-Plett has collaborated with a number of government and non-profit organizations and it is currently implementing a programme called Extended Publics Works. 

“This is a developmental project that is undertaken in collaboration with our National Government. 

“Whereby they use infrastructure projects to recruit and develop skills of young people who are currently unemployable.”    


Battling a Challenge Inherited by Apartheid 

Such great and necessary initiatives undoubtedly seek and inspiration, which usually comes from one’s personal experience. 

The very idea of tackling youth unemployment came from Luthando Kolwapi seeing the impact unemployment has on young people in South Africa. 

“Young people are unmotivated and have lost all hope of being ever employable. 

“The situation that has brought this about is the inadequate educational system that the country inherited from the Apartheid regime. 

“This educational system has left many young black South Africans with little to no skills in terms of entering the job market.”

Therefore, this was an issue that was close to his heart, as a young boy living in South Africa. 

“The gap in South Africa is that there are no young people with vocational skills that will equip them in starting their own small businesses or securing employment.”

So far, the organisation has grown gradually since its inception in 2014. 

luthando kolwapi
Working Hard: Luthando Kolwapi is the Founder and Non-Executive Chairperson of EDU-PLETT

“We have thus far recruited and trained over 400 participants. We have offered many skills from agriculture, office administration, community care workers, plumbing skills and many more.” 

He further mentions that the challenge at the moment has been streamlining their programme with skills needed by the economy. 

“This will ensure that participants will be recruited in the job market.” 


Less Crime and Less Drugs 

Kolwapi speaks also about how this initiative changed society and paved the path for a better society and a better future for the youngsters, and what’s the community feedback that you have received so far.

“This project has specifically changed the lives of the young residents within my community. It has given them hope and a new sense of purpose.

“Many young people would get involved in drugs and crime due to them having nothing to do. Therefore, they were easily drawn to such ill activities.” 

“Once young people are trained and equipped with such skills, they are also able to start their own small businesses.”

In his words, the community is also very appreciative of the interventions they have brought about within the community.

“This has resulted in there being less crime within the communities, and there being less young people being exposed to drugs and crime.”

Luthando Kolwapi
Youth Power: He works with young people to find them work in South Africa

Kolwapi concludes this interview with Youth Time on a positive note by sending an inspiring message to young leaders all around the globe.

“Yes, you may have a big and exciting idea, but it is important to start somewhere that is realistic and achievable. 

“Furthermore, use what you have around you, interact with your community. You will find that most solutions can come from the locals themselves.” 


About Luthando Kolwapi 

Luthando Kolwapi is a Communications Specialist. He graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelors’ Degree in International Relations, Public Policy and Media Studies. 

After gaining some experience within the communications industry, he went on to complete his Honours degree in Political Communications also at UCT. He is currently busy completing his Master’s at the LSE in Media and Communication Governance. He has experience within both the Public and Private Sector. 

Photos: From the albums of Luthando Kolwapi

Youth is bringing positive change in every part of Africa. Here is another example. 

The Aquaponics Initiative: A Young Activist Transforming Agriculture in Ghana

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