Introducing the Youth Employment Service initiative

Just the other day, driving along William Nicol cursing traffic and trying to find a decent radio station to listen to, something or rather someone, popped into my peripheral vision. Upon closer inspection, I saw her: a young lady immaculately dressed, standing next to the traffic light holding a brown cardboard poster. It read: “LLB Degree completed, two years para-legal experience obtained. Looking for an opportunity to article”. With her name and contact details displayed at the bottom. I was flabbergasted at such a desperate (but still ingenious approach) to secure employment for someone with her experience and qualifications
Then I remembered the story of a Chemical Engineering graduate back in 2016 who followed a similar approach and fortunately ended up finding a role after being in the job market for over a year without receiving any concrete offers.

The Sad Truth about our Youth

If graduates are resorting to intersections in attempts to find work, the opportunities available for those with Grade 12 or less seem pretty much non-existent by the look of things.

You may be aware of the overall 27% unemployment statistic in South Africa presently, but did you know that the youth unemployment rate for people between the ages of 18 and 34 touched the 40% mark during the first quarter of 2018?

To put these metrics into perspective: 1 in 3 youngsters you have seen today are unemployed!

From Digress to YES

For the naysayers out there, these figures predict an unstoppable journey of youth demise plagued by poverty, addiction, violence and crime. At the other end of the spectrum, a few rainmakers came together and mapped out an alternative future route for South African youngsters set to empower 1 million of them to participate in paid working experiences over the next three years.

The Youth Employment Service (YES) was introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March this year to facilitate job creation and include our youth into the economic growth story of our Rainbow Nation. YES, is a collaboration effort between business, government and labour with the aim to cultivate job-demand for unemployed youths via organisational investment and simultaneously leverage upon government recognition schemes such as Employment Tax benefits and B-BBEE scoring.

It is early days still, but initial indications have shown this story pointing to a potential “happy ever after” with the big guns from corporate sector banking, telecommunications and manufacturing already adopting the YES enterprise as part of their overall strategic endeavours.

The Power of Three

“Say YES to a future that works”, “#LetsCreateJobs“, “Catalyse Youth Employment”. A few Google searches around the YES topic, and one is met with positive taglines and catchy hashtags. What makes this programme so unique as to create such a buzz in social media channels and online platforms?

The YES programme focusses on the proverbial lowest hanging fruits of job creation, zoning in on three areas where youth employment creation interventions are likely to have the most significant impacts:

1) Generate job opportunities in existing firms

Companies are encouraged to facilitate 12-month paid internship opportunities for unemployed youth’s where they can gain full-time working experience and also participate in various development programmes such as Work Readiness or Soft Skills training. A youngster is 3x more likely to secure a position regardless of his or her qualification, if they have accumulated some working experience previously.

2) Promote SMME capacity with sponsored candidates

Where the employment of additional staff, is not an option, companies may choose to sponsor a YES candidate to be incorporated for 12 months at a suitable SMME host (workplace)and then pay them a montly salary. In this manner, SMME capacity increases with much-needed staff resources, without having to carry the remuneration burden of these candidates.

3) Establish or develop youth-managed SMME’s

This leg of the programme aims to empower young people to start their own micro-businesses, particularly in rural and township areas where the youth unemployment rate is a staggering 60% presently. Value chain integration, seed funding, mentorship and support practices from YES members will accelerate succession in these SMME’s.

An estimated 8.5 billion in personal income will be activated in the South African economy per year via these delivery channels. Now that’s an inspiring number to entice businesses to join the YES movement.

Watch this space for our next series of articles where we will start unpacking the three YES pillars in greater detail, highlight important pitfalls and discuss the mutual benefits of allocating ‘’innovation funds” to this movement, for companies, candidates and communities.

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