In November, the assessment and selection of applicants for 10 internship positions was well underway following a September announcement that the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) is to sponsor 10 paid and structured internships in the field of environmental science over the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
The internships form part of WWF’s highly successful Graduate Internship Programme. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is a third partner in the initiative.
“Our members recognise that youth unemployment is one of the most serious challenges facing South Africa today and the SADSTIA/DAFF/WWF Graduate Internship Programme provides us with an opportunity to make a real difference and assist government,” said Terence Brown, chairman of SADSTIA. “We hope the programme will give individuals an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, link to professional networks and possibly establish a career in the fishing industry.”
Seven of the 10 SADSTIA/DAFF/WWF interns will be placed at fishing companies that are members of SADSTIA, and three will be placed at the Fisheries Branch of DAFF.
Since its launch in 2011, the WWF Graduate Internship Programme has grown considerably in scope and impact and to date 128 interns have participated in the programme. Interns are selected from 20 universities situated all over the country – from the University of Venda in the north, to the University of Zululand in the east and the historically significant University of Fort Hare, to name a few.
According to Glenda Raven, director of the WWF Graduate Internship Programme, the inclusiveness and wide geographical spread of the annual intake of interns has enabled WWF to meet one of the programme’s key objectives – to attract diversity to the environmental field.
Of the 128 interns who have participated in the WWF Graduate Internship Programme, 76% of have moved directly into permanent jobs and 81% are employed in the environment sector. Those who are employed outside the environment sector often fulfill an environmental function in their jobs; for instance, a job as a sustainability manager in the retail sector. Another interesting fact is that 15% of those who have participated in the WWF Graduate Internship Programme have gone back to university; eight former interns are currently studying at doctoral (PhD) level.
“The partnership with SADSTIA and DAFF is a significant milestone in the evolution of the WWF Graduate Internship Programme,” said Raven, “I would like to think that this is the point at which we begin working with many other organisations to expand the programme. I see this as the catalyst.”
Once they are selected to participate in the SADSTIA/DAFF/WWF Graduate Internship Programme, graduates and their mentors attend orientation and training courses so that they are clear about their respective roles and responsibilities.
Pictured at the launch of the SADSTA/DAFF/WWF Graduate Internship programme are (from left) Johann Augustyn, secretary of SADSTIA; Madoda Khumalo, strategic services executive at Sea Harvest and head of SADSTIA’s Scientific Committee; Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF-South Africa; Fisokuhle Mbatha, SADSTIA research assistant; Glenda Raven, director of the WWF Graduate Internship Programme; Belemani Semoli, acting director general of the Fisheries Branch of DAFF; Sue Middleton, chief director of Fisheries Operations Support in the Fisheries Branch of DAFF; Terence Brown, operations director of Sea Harvest and chairman of SADSTIA; and Saasa Pheeha, acting chief director of Fisheries Research & Development in the Fisheries Branch of DAFF.