Unlocking Youth Potential - Business Media MAGS

Sunday Times Skills

Unlocking Youth Potential

Corporate South Africa is working with the government to tackle youth unemployment in South Africa — one job at a time, writes Trevor Crighton.

The national Youth Employment Service (YES) project, which aims to find ways to create one million jobs for South Africa’s youth, was born out of the CEO Initiative launched in March 2018 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It is a joint initiative between government, business, labour and civil society to tackle the 52.2 per cent unemployment rate among South Africans aged between 18 and 35.

More than 3.3 million South Africans between the ages of 15 and 34 are neither studying, nor working. Only half of that number have completed Grade 12 and are largely unemployable in the formal sector unless they receive some kind of relevant training and work experience.

As part of the YES project, the Nedbank Group, along with its sponsored implementation partners, WILDTRUST, Tradeway, UnlockD and ORT SA, has signed on 3 315 young people for 12 months of paid work experience. The banking group has committed to investing around 1.5 per cent of its three-year average SA net profit after tax in the programme annually, as of the first quarter of 2019.

Speaking at the induction ceremony for the Nedbank-linked YES participants, Ramaphosa commended Nedbank for being the single biggest contributor to the YES initiative. “It troubles me to know that there are millions of unemployed youth who have embraced a tertiary education, but haven’t been able to find jobs.

“It is encouraging that a number of companies are now responding to this urgent need. But more companies need to come on board to help unlock the potential for energetic and ambitious young people,” he said.  He said government was looking at setting up a Youth Commission to give youth a voice and address their most pressing issues.

Opportunities to develop skills and experience

About 276 companies have joined the programme and are currently sponsoring just under 17 000 paid opportunities. “We are excited to be welcoming the youth intake and walking this new journey with them as they use the opportunity of a first job to develop their skills and experience to become leaders and inspiring, job-creating entrepreneurs,” says Nedbank Group chief executive Mike Brown. “We are certain that the experience gained over the year they spend with us and our placement partners will be vital in affording them better opportunities in the future. Youth and SMEs are the backbone of driving inclusive economic growth and unlocking job opportunities.”

Applicants to the programme need to register online at www.yes4youth.co.za. When a work opportunity arises, candidates are shortlisted, interviewed by interested companies, and hopefully, selected. From there, they sign contracts and begin their placement, armed with a YES-sponsored mobile phone and app that gives them modules to complete from how to be professional in the work environment to being job-ready.

The 12-month work opportunity that follows allows YES youth to participate in a meaningful work experience that gives them a first-hand view of what it means to have a job and everything it entails. “Within WILDTRUST, the youth will carry out a range of roles in support of and across our WILDLANDS and WILDOCEANS programmes including administration, marketing, IT, HR, training support and finance support, and also roles that will enable them to make a contribution and have an impact on the environment, communities, society and their heritage through jobs such as recycling assistants, tree and land assistants, farming, education and Early Childhood Development teacher support and tourism,” says WILDTRUST CEO Andrew Venter.

WILDTRUST will also provide an additional layer of training for the youth, ensuring that the YES online modules are enhanced through face-to-face, more in-depth and interactive learning and development. By the end of the 12 months, the participants will have both the experience and skills to boost their chances of either continuing in the working world, or striking out on their own as entrepreneurs.

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