This Youth Month, turn SA’s unemployment nightmare into a bold dream
While the latest official unemployment rate released by Stats SA (QLFS: Q1, 2022) shows a slight improvement, South Africa’s unemployment rate is still a nightmare. Certainly, it should be giving all of us all sleepless nights. Our unemployment rate stands at 45.5%, but the real horror is the disproportionate impact this has on our youth. As we enter Youth Month, a time where we honour the younger generation for the imperative role they play in our democracy and economy, two in three youth are unemployed.
Our young people are more than the future customers for businesses and the future tax base on which our economy will stand. They need to gain practical skills to keep South Africa competitive in a rapidly changing global economy. Crucially, they must be economically included so that they realise benefits for democracy. Creating opportunities for these youth is not a small ask, but through meaningful collaboration, patience, and collective optimism, it's more than possible. This is the mission of Youth Employment Service (YES).
YES is a pioneering, business-driven initiative which aims to tackle South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis and drive youth employability. The organisation works with businesses to sponsor 12-month work experiences for unemployed young people (either within their own business or with a YES-vetted host partner). In return a business receives up to two levels up on their B-BBEE scorecard.
Despite the country having lost two million jobs since March 2020, YES has created over 82,000 work opportunities for youth in just over three years, injecting R4.6 billion into the economy through youth salaries alone, with no government funding.
The YES turnkey solution, which allows businesses to place youth in YES host partners, seamlessly integrates into environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). YES host partners are non-profits (NPOs) and small- or medium enterprises (SMEs) working in communities, meaning youth don’t have to travel far for opportunities. YES host partners work in high-impact sectors such as conservation, education, digital, early childhood development, healthcare and small business development, where youth can directly contribute to building their community.
These opportunities, whether inside your business or with a YES host partner, give young people the opportunities to upskill and bolster their CVs, making them three times more employable. The 12-month quality work experience equips unemployed youth with a toolkit to be a beacon of hope for their families, households and communities. Programmes like YES need to be accelerated to rapidly drive employment in the short term – and it’s only though getting more businesses to sign on that this can happen.
Join the movement. Over 2,000 businesses have already signed on to co-create a future that works for all. Sign up at yes4youth.co.za.
This content is sponsored by the Youth Employment service.