More business support for YES

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Artisan Training Institute (ATI) has become the latest private sector company to back the Youth Employment Service (YES) announced recently by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

ATI, which was established in 1982, noted in a statement that the future of South Africa’s youth relies heavily on young people’s readiness to enter the job market.

“The youth are the most vulnerable in the skills economy. Most are willing to work, but their opportunities for employment are limited. Basic education does not adequately prepare young people for workplaces. Employers need fundamental skills that bring about workplace readiness,” ATI Managing Director Sean Jones said.

Jones said the launch of the Youth Employment Service (YES) in March 2018, signified major progress towards helping South Africa’s youth obtain work placement. The YES campaign promises to create between 300 000 and half a million jobs for young people each year.

“The YES initiative creates opportunities for businesses to respond to this challenge through a programme that has been smartly designed to everyone’s advantage,” Jones said.

He noted that one of the most encouraging elements of the YES initiative is the possibility of a partnership between government, labour, civil society and young people to work together to fight South Africa’s unemployment crisis. The initiative introduces new youth employment B-BBEE recognition and allows businesses that meet YES targets to improve their B-BBEE scorecard. To encourage the demand-side of job creation, companies qualify for tax incentives when they employ black youth aged 18-29. Businesses that participate in the project should establish one-year paid positions for youngsters. Those businesses that cannot employ young people internally, have the option of sponsoring their salary for a year in a small- to medium enterprise.

A young person increases his or her chance of future employment threefold with only one year of work experience, a CV and an employment letter, said Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES. Therefore, the private sector can contribute significantly to the South African economy by placing youth through the YES programme.

Jones said companies do take a risk when they employ a young person without any previous work experience or skills. Having workplace exposure coupled with quality technical training reduces this exposure for companies.

According to Linda Kromjong, the secretary general of the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), degree apprenticeships, a new education approach, are becoming increasingly relevant in dealing with youth unemployment, combining skills development with job placement. Jones reiterates: Degree programmes are becoming apprenticeship-based. The status quo is no longer that your kids rush to university and simply step into a job. Practical skills are critical in ensuring job readiness”.

Degree apprenticeships are making waves in the United Kingdom. Employers, universities and professional bodies work together to ensure the youth’s employability through a programme that combine university studies with part-time employment. Although degree apprenticeships have not reached the South African shores, the YES initiative offers a similar opportunity albeit at a more basic level.

“Training our youth and providing them with on-the-job experience to increase their employability makes commercial sense and will lead to positive social change for South Africa,” said Jones. –