About Us

Dedicated to our young people – for more than a century

The Salesian Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of South Africa’s vulnerable children and youth at risk. For more than a century we have been providing education, shelter and emotional support for at-risk young people – a mission begun in the 19th century by Salesian order founder St. John Bosco, who made it his life’s work to support children in need. It’s a mission we are living today, adapted to the unique needs of South Africa’s 21st century young people.

South Africa’s youth is in crisis

Safeguarding and improving the lives of young people is a vital task in South Africa. In the Western Cape province where we work, 44 percent of the population are young people under the age of 25. Nearly a third of them live in poverty, with one in five suffering severe deprivation. In addition, recent studies have shown some half a million youths and children live on the streets of South Africa – 120,000 of them in the Western Cape province alone. And the trend is accelerating.

Here in South Africa, supporting the youth is a national imperative, as President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently reminded us, noting that the more than 50% unemployment rate among young South Africans is a national crisis that demands “urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions”.

We transform youth at risk into successful citizens

The Salesian Institute serves vulnerable children and youth at risk regardless of religion, race, gender or nationality. We give them the skills they need to stay out of danger, find good jobs and lead happy lives. Each year we do this for the many young men and women in our programmes with a custom-tailored mix of basic education, vocational training, social skills, and neighbourhood outreach.

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Our programmes include:

Life Skills

Life skills classes to give at-risk youth self-confidence and social skills plus basic home skills like budgeting: this includes self-actualisation, self-confidence building, interview skills, communication, cultural diversity awareness, relationship building, motivation and problem solving, time management, stress management, conflict resolution, peer pressure, interview skills, gender and domestic violence sensitisation, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS awareness, goal setting, trust building and positive thinking.
Job search and placement services.

We are in it for the long haul

Our commitment to enriching the lives of South Africa’s at-risk young people is long-standing and long-term. Creating better futures for vulnerable children and youth at risk is not an overnight process. Can you help us reach our long-term goals?  Please join us on this journey to make a life changing difference to the lives of vulnerable youth who are deserving of our support and our care.



Vulnerable children and youth at risk in South Africa face a wide variety of problems, the biggest of which are access to education, employment and basic social skills. Our programmes are designed to address these problems head on so that vulnerable youth can find meaningful work, take care of themselves and reintegrate as productive members of the community.

Our programmes range from basic training for youths with little or no education to more advanced job-specific skills programmes. All our programmes seek to restore dignity and self-esteem and provide the life skills needed to succeed.

1.  Learn to Live School of Skills: Filling the gaps

Many of the children and youth we serve have dropped out from school or never attended in the first place. The Learn-to-Live programme gets them up to speed in basic literacy, numeracy and other areas to prepare the youth for further vocational training that will assist them to find employment after leaving school.






Our academic programmes are certified by the Western Cape Education Department and feature classes in:

  • Home Language (Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa)
  • First Additional Language (Afrikaans, English)
  • Mathematics

Life Skills:

  • Creative Arts
  • Natural Science
  • Personal and Social Well-being
  • Computer Literacy

For vocational training, we offer classes led by master craftspeople and mentors in these areas:

  • Woodcraft and Timber
  • Electrical
  • Hairdressing
  • Hospitality Studies

Our Learn-to-Live graduates either go on to other schools, find jobs or start their own small businesses or join one of our other Programs

2.  Porsche Training and Recruitment Centre – South Africa (PTRC-ZA)

The PTRC-ZA is the newest addition to the Salesian Institute Youth Projects. The automotive industry is facing the biggest upheaval in 100 years as it undergoes a major shift towards new technologies. The ongoing move towards digitalization, connectivity, e-mobility, environmental protection amongst others requires a new set of special skills for employees in the industry. The PTRC-ZA tackles this by creating a regional hub of excellence where Porsche’s intelligent performance and the Salesian social footprint combine to deliver intelligent qualification for the digital automotive pioneers of tomorrow.

This exciting programme was launched in 2017 with the first pilot class of 28 male and female students. Every year, approximately 25 young men and women from socially disadvantaged backgrounds will be trained as automotive service mechatronics technicians. This training seeks to unlock career opportunities in the After Sales dealership organisations of Porsche and the other brands of the Volkswagen Group. The programme is being jointly implemented by the Salesian Institute Youth Projects and the local Porsche importer, LSM Distributors (Pty.) Ltd. This unique combination of competencies allows for a multiple win situation where the Salesian mission and the mission of Porsche are jointly fulfilled.

Porsche has equipped SIYP with two seminar rooms and a training workshop which includes vehicles for the trainees to work on. The vocational education is adapted to the modern and future needs of the automotive industry and the curriculum teaches not only technical and methodological skills but social, personal and digital competencies too.

3.  Waves of Change Programme

Sea fishing is a large industry in South Africa, especially along the Western Cape coastline.  The Salesian Institute Youth Projects realised the need for youth with very low levels of education to be gainfully employed in order to contribute towards the financial needs of their families and communities.  The Cape Town harbour is on our doorstep with the result we partnered with large sea fishing companies in the sector as well as various training providers in the sector to train some 200 young men and woman each year.

The Waves of Change (WOC) programme impacts directly on at least 200 youth annually. The indirect impact could affect approximately 1000 people (direct families). All 200 participants complete a 5-day life skills program and then go on to complete Safety and Familiarisation Courses, obtain their Medical Certificates and other requirements to become seafarers. In the past these youth received monetary assistance to apply for the various training requirement and steps to be completed.

Only once all the training and document requirements have been completed - can the youth be legally employed by a reputable fishing company. This programme aims to address this challenge by offering Life Skills, access to training programmes for work at sea, assistance to obtain Seamans Record Book and a Doctor’s certificate as well as a Letter of Intent to Employ.  The youth who come to us for assistance could not achieve all these steps on their own.
The sea fishing industry affords these youngsters a career path, something they cannot easily access in other sectors due to their low level of education & socio-economic circumstances.



We rely on support and funding to provide a critical service to youth from at-risk communities in and around Cape Town.  We appeal to individuals, companies and foundations to Give Something That Means Something and invest in our youth development programmes.


  Support Our Appeal 



Salesian Institute Youth Projects (SIYP) is a declared Public Benefit Organisation (reference number 18/11/13/2116) and was granted tax exemption status by the South African Revenue Service in terms of Section 10(1) (cN) and Section 18A(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act of 1962. SIYP is 100% B-BBEE compliant.