The green economy is one sector which the matric class of 2014 ought to exploit as sound training and employment option with long-term sustainable benefits. This is according to Pieter Malherbe, managing director of TEVA, the leading energy-efficient window and door manufacturer.

“We know that not even every matriculant who has achieved a bachelors pass will be able to enter tertiary institutions and as a collective private and public sector, we need to encourage these youth to pursue a career in the green sector,” says Malherbe.

Malherbe refers to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) establishment of the Green Industries Special Business Unit in 2011, where an investment of R22bn was committed to the Unit over a 5-year period, representing nearly 25% of the IDC’s total funding.

“The jobs which the green economy creates tend to have higher local content than traditional fossil-fuel based activities. Energy efficient investments such as retrofitting buildings are generally more location-specific and require local labour,” continues Malherbe.

When Malherbe started TEVA, he says, all he had was ‘a dream in my pocket’ and one partner in the business. Six years later TEVA boasts a local manufacturing plant which employs 25 people for whom the company facilitated skills transfer, training and development drawn from mostly uneducated, unskilled and unemployed Gauteng youth at their factory in Kya Sands.

“I took a risk in an industry which, in 2009, was still in its infancy and I had to do the ‘hard work’ of learning about the sector, discovering and, in some instances, creating new markets. Energy efficiency was still a relatively new concept back then and even today, the bulk of our work is about educating both employees and consumers about the benefits of sustainable living.”

TEVA demonstrated its resilience through a global recessive economy and over the last two years has maintained steady growth which has seen the company’s figures nearly double every year.

Malherbe believes that the class of 2014 needs to be proactive in pursuing internship opportunities or starting their own businesses, specifically in green industries which are sprouting across South Africa.

“Ours is a country with unique challenges, and there is a tremendous gap for youth to innovate and implement green social solutions, whether it is in housing, energy supply, clean running water, commercial eco-gardening. The green economy really is theirs to own.”

TEVA recently secured a contract in the affordable housing market, to supply and install the company’s energy-efficient window and door solutions for first-time homeowners in Marikana.

“We are thrilled to be part of this housing initiative as it means we get to participate in growing the movement towards sustainable living. For us, energy efficiency is about improving the quality of life for all citizens. What is even more exciting is that already in the first quarter of the year, TEVA will be training and introducing 10 new employees to the country’s green economy skills pool.”