top of page



Asset 4.png



Staff Writer | 30 October 2023

As young people exit the formal training programme at YES, they will have not only an awareness of how AI can improve how they work and how this could become a career or profession moving forward.

Microsoft South Africa and the Youth Employment Service (YES) have teamed up to offer innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) training to empower 300,000 young South Africans with essential digital skills, paving the way for future innovation, employability, and economic growth.

This collaboration has resulted in the creation of the AI Youth Training Platform, an initiative celebrated at Microsoft South Africa’s A New Era with AI event in Sandton. Attended by over 1,000 IT professionals and developers driving AI transformation in the country, this platform is a crucial step towards bridging the gap in AI knowledge among the youth.

Together, YES and Microsoft have developed tailored training materials, establishing a comprehensive learning path that caters to varying levels of exposure to AI and computer science. The platform is inclusive, designed to provide all young individuals with access to and awareness of AI, allowing them to develop skills from novice to expert levels.

Recognising the unfamiliarity many young people have with AI, the introductory module focuses on providing a foundational understanding of AI’s purpose and value in a practical and accessible manner, ensuring that AI becomes a familiar and empowering tool for the youth.

“This collaborative effort with Microsoft is a testament to our ongoing commitment to equipping the youth with the digital skills for future-facing sectors and careers. The significant number of beneficiaries underscores the scale of impact we want to achieve through this partnership,” says Ravi Naidoo, CEO of YES.

From a practical level, this partnership is geared towards creating a surge in job creation and enhanced employability to make significant strides for the country to put in place a more digitally inclusive economy.

“Together with YES, we are not only addressing the pressing issue of youth unemployment but also helping create a culture of innovation and employability through digital capability building. Microsoft’s approach to AI is based on meaningful innovation, empowering people, and responsibility. This partnership delivers on these three pillars as the means to grow a new talent pool for digital businesses to tap into not only in South Africa, but the rest of the world,” says Lillian Barnard, president for Microsoft Africa.

As young people exit the formal training programme at YES, they will have not only an awareness of how AI can improve how they work and how this could become a career or profession moving forward.

Participants who complete the AI Expert Module and who meet key criteria, will be eligible for certification.

YES, a South African not-for-profit company (NPC), born out of the CEO Initiative, is a joint national initiative between business, government and labour that aims to address the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa by providing 12-month quality work experiences to unemployed youth.

It is estimated that more than seven million young people under the age of 35 in South Africa are unemployed or are discouraged from seeking work. The YES programme is a collaborative effort to address the scourge of youth unemployment in South Africa, addressing those between the ages of 18 and 34 who are South African citizens, notwithstanding their educational nor professional backgrounds. A national programme, it benefits both the companies that subscribe to it, as well as the country’s economic base by creating social impact through youth job creation.

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


bottom of page