DIEPSLOOT, TUESDAY, 27TH MARCH 2018. President Cyril Ramaphosa today launched the Youth Employment Service (YES), a business-led partnership with government, labour and civil society which aims to empower one million young South Africans by offering paid quality work experiences over the next three years.
YES was established as part of the efforts by government, labour and business to create inclusive growth that benefits all who live in South Africa. A key contributor to this goal is increasing job creation and ensuring that youth are included in the economic growth story in a sustainable manner.
The programme has three channels for youth employment opportunities:
Businesses are being asked to create new paid one-year positions for unemployed black youth over and above current employment numbers. Where a company doesn’t have capacity to host young people, they’re encouraged to sponsor a salary for a one-year starter position at an SMME which lies closer to where the young person lives, building SMME capacity and competitiveness.
Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES, commented: “YES aims to give that portion of our youth, which are largely overlooked by the country’s current employment models, a crucial first chance to gain a paid work experience of a decent quality. This significantly increases their chances of securing permanent employment after the year.”
Research has shown that one year of work experience, coupled with a CV and reference letter, increases a young person’s chances of finding employment by three times.
“In essence, this proven experience de-risks a young person and makes employers more likely to appoint new hires. The effect is amplified for women,” said Ismail-Saville.
At the launch, President Ramaphosa was introduced to the first 100 young people who will be employed at ABSA, Investec, Netcare, Sasol and Unilever through the YES programme.
Large businesses alone cannot absorb sufficient numbers of youth. Over two thirds of South Africa’s current employment base is medium-sized companies and smaller, making it critical that they are involved with the programme.
Prior to joining the programme, businesses that sign up to YES will be screened to ensure that the proposed work experiences are of a sufficient quality and that youth will gain relevant skills. The experiences will also be monitored for effectiveness.
The workplace training is complemented by equally important work-readiness skills and mentorship to provide a holistic development approach.
“One of the key challenges to job creation that we aim to address, is creating jobs in the communities where young people are, and where youth unemployment is often at its highest,” said Ismail-Saville.
This has motivated the creation of the SMME host placement channel, which should increase productivity and competitiveness in smaller businesses in various communities and ultimately enhance inclusive growth.
“In development stories all over the world, SMMEs lead as major job creators and are often in a better position than many larger corporates to ensure skills transfer with lower power and cultural distances. This channel enables these organisations to have the benefit of the fresh perspective and the energy of youth in their businesses, and grow their local economies,” said Ismail-Saville.
YES is in the process of creating a number of community hubs at various locations in the country, which will provide the environment and services necessary for existing and aspiring business owners to elevate their businesses or ideas.
Colin Coleman and Stephen Koseff, co-convenors of YES commented: “YES is a practical partnership between stakeholders that uses the funding, skills and organisation of businesses, the incentives and regulatory power of government, the co-operation of labour and the participation of communities to create a new set of opportunities for youth to gain an opportunity for experience in the workforce.”
“Today’s launch is the result of over 18 months of careful planning, consultations and negotiations that led to Nedlac and the Cabinet endorsing YES as an important contribution to including marginalised youth in the economic life of South Africa,” they added.
Ismail-saville concluded: “South Africa has incredible potential that is just waiting to be unlocked. YES is an attempt to unlock and accelerate this by creating one million opportunities for those young people that are currently excluded from our economy. It is all of our responsibility to start changing this picture – offer one chance to one person is all it takes.”