Since President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (YES) in March last year, companies have jointly committed to realising nearly 18 000 work opportunities.
The President on Thursday met with YES candidates who started their paid work experience at Nedbank and responded to their most urgent grievances, including sustainable jobs after training and experience and relevant training to equip them for market demand.
Nedbank last week pledged their sponsorship of 3 315 candidates between the ages of 18 and 29, over the next 12 months. About half of these candidates will complete their paid work experience at Nedbank, while the remainder will complete their paid work experience at Nedbank’s placement partner companies, including nonprofit environmental organisation Wildtrust and talent development company UnlockD.
YES CEO Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville noted during the gathering on Thursday that 231 companies had registered on YES’s jobs portal, with the 18 000 work opportunities including paid work experiences at either their own companies, or sponsorships of salaries while working at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Nedbank CEO Mike Brown stated that SMEs, and not large corporates, were the engine room for economic growth and alleviating unemployment.
YES is aimed at creating one-million job opportunities within three years of its launch, to help alleviate the 52% youth unemployment rate; however, Ramaphosa confirmed that this time period would need to be extended, since the programme is only now gaining momentum, following the legal process of starting up YES, which was only finalised in November last year.
The President said Nedbank had gotten the ball rolling and he urged other large corporates to follow suit. YES had also already roped in major business partners such as Investec, Cell C, MTN, Sanlam, Sasol, Standard Bank, Unilever, Volkswagen, PG Group, Netcare, Woolworths, Tarsus Technology Group, Adcock Ingram and ArcelorMittal South Africa.
In response to some of the YES candidates’ grievances voiced to the President, he said he was working to remove the experience requirement in entry-level public sector jobs to allow educated and/or skilled youths the chance to start working, even though they may not have a year or years’ worth experience on their curriculum vitaes.
Ramaphosa called on the private sector to also help in overcoming this barrier to entry into the job market, as many educated youths end up being unemployed, even though they have studied the required theory for the job.
The President mentioned that he had set up and would chair a Youth Commission to address the challenges that the majority of young people experience in getting a job or starting a small business.
He added that an overhaul in the education system was needed to provide both theoretical knowledge and practical training, at high school level and at tertiary education level, and that schooling should be continuously tailored to what the job market needs.
He pointed out that there had been a rise in technical high schools, which offer theoretical and practical training to ready youths for the job market.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa mentioned that he wanted to agglomerate all the youth-focused initiatives across government departments to keep track of what programmes were available and how they have progressed.
In conclusion, the President urged the Nedbank YES candidates to have endurance, remain driven and to continually give their best to make the best of their paid work experiences.