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Companies say YES to reducing youth unemployment in SA


Johannesburg - Africa has extraordinarily high unemployment levels, especially among young people.

The Youth Employment Service (YES) is an initiative that calls on business to help government create critical work experience for youth in the country.

In this file picture, Radzuma Tshimangadzo stands holding a placard with his qualifications as he seeks a job at an intersection in Rosebank, South Africa. Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

Launched just over two years ago by President Cyril Ramaphosa, YES – together with over 1200 partner companies – has already created nearly 50 000 work experiences for unemployed youth who had limited opportunities for employment.

Chief executive of the initiative, Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, said: “If you look at the trend over longer than a decade, this number just hasn’t been reducing. It is steadily climbing. The idea of the YES initiative was how do we put in place something that is incentivised, that drives the private sector and is a collaborative model with stakeholders in society to make some kind of difference.

“We see a lot of shop talk with government, business and labour but very rarely do we see it resulting in an actual operational initiative that is executing on the ground.

“We are creating these opportunities for youth that accelerate their career pathways. Young people just don’t have the networks and access to get to that first experience. We know once they get the foot in the door with a CV and reference letter, they start getting a network of potential future employers.”

She said for young women, a CV and reference letter doubled their likelihood of getting a job within three months of a search.

“It really has a profound effect. We have just done a massive employer survey and a lot of this research confirms a lot of employer biases. They want to employ people who have worked before. This YES year gives these young people the chance to work towards that.”

MultiChoice teamed up with YES, Investec, Nedbank, Volkswagen and Telesure Investment Holdings to share their inspiring stories, which demonstrate the significant ripple effect of the YES initiative, not only on the young beneficiaries, but on their families and communities. The Showmax series, The Great Reset, is a six part 15-minute docu-series.

“It was important for the movement to be able to share these stories on Showmax and show South Africans how their actions can make a profound difference to the trajectory of the country,” said Ismail-Saville

She said viewers could look forward to travelling into the homes of young people in townships and rural areas.

“Large numbers of the jobs created by Investec actually happened in Mpumalanga, which we know has some of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

“Hearing the story of Khensani and how she had no hope she would qualify for this job. She was bowled over at receiving a positive response because the norm that has developed in young people’s minds is that there is no hope. When people in your community get given that opportunity, other young people in that community can give up that sense of helplessness, hopelessness…”

The series focuses on the year’s journey of youngsters whose participation in the YES programme has been supported by six organisations.1



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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