Amandawe residents Londiwe Buthelezi and Nonhlanhla Hlongwa completed the programmes, which were funded by Renishaw Hills, a mature lifestyle development near Scottburgh on the South Coast.
Phillip Barker, managing director of Renishaw Property Developments, said a priority of Renishaw Hills’s development has been engaging with the local KwaCele community and finding ways to empower the residents through the development.
“The CETA training programme, which was initiated in June last year, forms part of that commitment,” said Barker. “We ensured that 13 of the 25 available positions were filled by women and this has proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience for everyone involved.”
Buthelezi and Hlongwa, both aged 21, successfully completed the year-long programme which involved five months of theory, followed by seven months of practical training in bricklaying, plastering, paving and carpentry (among others), all performed at Renishaw Hills.
Following a stringent assessment of their knowledge and skills, the two will now be awarded the National Certificate: Building & Civils Construction, NQF Level 3.
Buthelezi said that since high school she had wanted to get into the construction industry.
“When I saw the notice for the programme, I applied, and was so happy and excited when I was selected from such a large group.”
More than 100 unemployed residents from the KwaCele Traditional Council applied for the 25 sought-after posts.
“I wanted a career in something that was different and challenging,” she said.
“I want to get some experience and then start my own company.”
The ambitious candidate admitted there had been some quizzical looks from men when the women arrived on site.
“At first they didn’t expect us to do this, but they were supportive, helping us carry the heavy items,” Buthelezi said.
Also hoping to start her own company, Hlongwa said overcoming stereotypes was important.
“The men believed there were things we couldn’t do because we were women, so we had to prove them wrong. We were able to do the work, and more.”
In addition to reluctance from co-workers, Hlongwa had to convince her family that she was capable.
“At first they were surprised that I wanted to do this work. I had to show them that I could, so they made me build a slab behind our house. Then they were happy, they could see it was my passion and I was good at it.”
Asked what advice she’d give to aspiring female construction workers, Hlongwa said: “If an opportunity arises, just go for it! There’s absolutely nothing men can do that we can’t.”