NEWS24 / 26 NOVEMBER 2018 - 16.03 / PETER VAN NIEUWENHUIZEN
South Africa’s unemployed youth face many challenges. Some of these challenges have nothing to do with the weak state of the economy, but everything to do with the attitude of employers and recruiting companies towards entry-level work placements.
Despite all the hype associated with the state’s Youth Employment Service (YES), the reality is that employers are not willing to participate and to allow the creation of entry-level positions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Youth Employment Service in Midrand. Picture: Twtter/ @Governmentza
In a recent field study undertaken by the Growth Institute, an executive training company, less than 2% of recruitment companies which were interviewed in Johannesburg indicated that their clients were willing to consider placing YES candidates in the workplace. The rest indicated that their clients required a minimum of three to five years’ experience and that they were not interested in entry-level candidates.
In addition, a field survey involving 60 companies that advertised openings showed that there was less than 40% awareness of the tax incentives and broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) incentives associated with the YES programme.
Of those who were aware the YES benefits, 50% indicated that they were willing to support it but were not interested in B-BBEE points because their turnover did not require them to comply with B-BBEE legislation.
It seems that the youth are caught between an economy that is unable to spark up and employers who are unwilling to give them a chance unless the youth have experience when applying for any advertised entry-level position.
Executives and HR personnel seem to forget that they may have started their careers in an entry-level position and that they were lucky to not be trapped in a set of invented constraints that make job creation impossible.
BUT AS LONG AS THE CURRENT ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE YES PREVAIL, THE ECONOMY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE UNEMPLOYMENT SINGULARITIES THAT THREATEN IT.
We can blame the sorry state of the economy on state capture, draconian labour legislation, the weak rand, Trumpist tantrums, Brexit, Brexin and many other factors, but as long as the current attitudes towards the YES prevail, the economy will not be able to move away from the unemployment singularities that threaten it.
Employers say they do not have time to teach new entrants how to do a job, that it is the job of tertiary institutions to ready the youth for the workplace, but the fact is that the tertiary education system – technical and vocational education and training; further education and training; colleges; and universities – provides both theoretical and practical components of a qualification.
In some cases, there is a legislative requirement that a student must do a certain number of practical hours before a qualification can be conferred upon him/her.
Such hours can only be accumulated in the workplace, which means that entry-level positions have to be part and parcel of producing a youth that is educated and qualified.
COMPANIES WHO SIMPLY TICK A NUMBER OF BOXES IN EXCHANGE FOR POINTS DO NOT REALISE THE SIGNIFICANT EFFECTS OF HAVING A B-BBEE CERTIFICATE WITHDRAWN BY VERIFIERS.
We are quick to complain about skills shortages and how the standard of education is going to the dogs, but the fact is that those who point fingers hardly ever deal with unemployed graduates or near-graduates.
Many high-potential young people would be revealed if only employers stop paying lip service to the YES programme and start doing something about creating the levels of employment that they claim to do on their B-BBEE certificates.
Companies who simply tick a number of boxes in exchange for points do not realise the significant effects of having a B-BBEE certificate withdrawn by verifiers.
All contracts entered into from the date such certificate is issued are voidable.
A recent example of large B-BBEE verifiers that were forced to withdraw certificates and to reaccredit cannot be taken lightly.
Employers must realise that the winds of change are blowing. Slowly but surely there is a migration from ignoring legislative frameworks, such as we experienced under former president Jacob Zuma, towards serious, well-intentioned governance.
For how long can employers afford to pay lip service to the YES programme, and for how long will artificial experience entry barriers place a burden on South Africa’s economic reawakening?
Peter van Nieuwenhuizen is CEO at the Growth Institute, a private college focusing on management education, skills development and enterprise development
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER