Youth jobs the key to SA economy’s ‘great reset’

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Nearly 50,000 jobs have been created through YES. (Image: Supplied)
Nearly 50,000 jobs have been created through YES. (Image: Supplied)

At any given moment, there are 8.5 million young people unemployed in South Africa. That’s enough to fill the iconic Soccer City Stadium 89 times over. Putting them to work is not just a national imperative, though: it could be the way to reset South Africa’s battered economy, says the Youth Employment Service (YES).

With more than 1,340 private sector partners such as Nedbank, ABSA and VW, YES has already filled Nelson Mandela Bay stadium with more than 50,000 new work experiences created. That’s 2.8 billion being injected into the economy and communities through youth wallets – but the task is still huge.

"We must do more to reset the economy. That first job for youth is the trigger to an economic cascade of events and is the only way to address inequality quickly. It is inequality which is breaking our nation," says Dr Tashmia Ismail, the chief executive of YES.

"Youth unemployment in South Africa was well over 50% before the pandemic started, and will undoubtedly rise as the crisis continues to play out. What our direct feedback from young people placed in 12-month work experiences is telling us is that when employed, the youth play a vital role in easing social burdens, and become active drivers of change within their communities."

YES’s track record of delivering youth jobs and catalysing youth employability points to the broader potential impact of this approach. Describing itself as ‘a collaborative economic enabler’, YES’s ability to create jobs comes from working closely with big business, with the support of government and labour.

Businesses of all sizes have found YES to be a cost-effective, high impact way of delivering jobs through its broad-based transformation approach. Businesses can tackle youth unemployment and increase their B-BBEE score by up to two levels. More than 400 companies have already levelled up their B-BBEE scorecards through YES, and nearly a third of YES Youth have been absorbed into full-time employment.

Research by the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation shows that youth employment programmes have long-term positive effects on skills development, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

"New jobs mean new taxpayers, new skilled employees and new customers. Thousands of new jobs could mean a new South Africa," said Dr Ismail.

South African businesses with financial year-ends coming up can improve their B-BBEE levels almost immediately by registering with YES, thanks to an agreement with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) to offer leniency in their first year of the programme.

YES allows companies with limited or no black ownership – including multinationals and family owned businesses – to participate meaningfully in transformation and to increase their B-BBEE levels. These businesses can make up for no black ownership through higher enterprise supplier development (ESD) and skills points.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by the Youth Employment Service (YES).

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