Could tapping into the largely unemployed youth of South Africa be a solution to many of the country’s problems?
In South Africa, one out of every two youth is unemployed and among the unemployed are two million young minds with secondary and tertiary education.
To help alleviate this national crisis, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Business for Social Responsibility officially launched the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition at The Venue in Melrose Arch this week – which prepares high potential youth for formal employment and gets entry-level jobseekers into the market.
Mamadou Biteye, Rockefeller Foundation’s managing director of Africa said that the launch was a milestone.
“We believe that there is still a huge room for impact sourcing here in South Africa, both by private sector and also by multinationals.
Typically when you work in the service sector in Africa, you do impact sourcing because the type of employee that you have matches the characteristics of high-potential sourcing.
It is important that they can understand what they are doing is impact sourcing so that they can harness the benefits of it, while truly making the social impact that it carries,” Biteye said.
The Rockefeller Foundation has for more than a century dedicated itself to a single mission: promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world.
By bringing celebrities such as actresses Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Wright on board, these Hollywood A-listers are helping the foundation to champion the cause for youth empowerment and advocating for the rights of the underprivileged.
According to the latest estimates by the International Labour Organisation, 71 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are expected to be unemployed in 2016.
In 2017 it is expected to rise from 13.6% to 13.7 %. As alarming as these figures are, the vision of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition is for all people in the world to have the opportunity to obtain productive employment and decent work.
As a partner for the launch, Business for Social Responsibility senior vice-president Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen said that it was important to know that the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition was a business aligned initiative rather than a social one.
“Our role is to facilitate and empower the members to do most of the work. We have Deloitte and numerous other members in South Africa and our role is to help them promote impact sourcing, to empower them to build their own internal capacities.”
He added that the companies are the ones that will carry the change that they’re looking to have.
“When trying to create a global coalition with hopefully hundreds of other members, there has to be someone who holds the baton and drives things forward.
There has to be someone to hold the decision-making meetings. So we are creating in the coalition what we call the steering committee which is the equivalent of a board of directors. Our role is to support the steering committee,” Pruzan-Jorgensen said.
The coalition is currently in the process of setting up the steering committee.
The Business for Social Responsibility is a global non-profit organisation that works with a network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world.
Deloitte is one of the partner companies that has already seen the success of impact sourcing within their company, having been involved with the initiative for six years now.
By seeking entry-level talent for its accounting and IT sections, the company realised that tapping into the largely unemployed youth of South Africa could be the solution to achieving its goals.
Over the past six to seven years, Deloitte has hired about 300 “impact workers” for its accounting operations. In fact, 10% to 12% of the company in South Africa is made up of impact workers .
An integral part of impact sourcing is preparing high potential youth for formal employment. Training organisations have been brought on board in order to provide job seekers with skills that companies may not provide, therefore making them more susceptible to being rejected for a job.
These skills include communications, punctuality and basic computer skills training.
Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is currently being funded by the Jobs Fund, and helps to train unemployed youth from a township or rural background in order to better equip them for future employment.
“For employers it really is about getting a pool of work-ready young people who can perform and can progress into other levels of jobs.
These are young people who don’t have experience, and in many ways Harambee tries to provide this first bit of work experience for them,” said Lebo Nke, a facilitator at Harambee, which is located on Fox Street in Johannesburg.
Matshidiso Tshabalala, from Diepkloof has completed her first week of the eight-week bridging programme at Harambee. After completing her IT qualification, she was struggling to find a job for two years and sought the help of Harambee.
“Most of the jobs ask for experience and I don’t have that. Sometimes they tell me that I am overqualified as well.
Coming to Harambee was the best decision that I made because what I’ve noticed is that most of the people who have come to Harambee are now earning well and are able to provide for their families.”
For Tshabalala, coming to Harambee has an immense effect on not just her but her family as well.
“At home my mum is the only one working. I live with my mum, son and uncle. We only depending on one income and what if something happens to my mum one day?
We can’t be dependent on her alone and I can’t continue being a statistic of the unemployed in South Africa,” she said.