Maverick Citizen


Youth Employment Service steers 100,000 young people in SA towards work

Youth Employment Service steers 100,000 young people in SA towards work
YES marked 100,000 jobs given to young South Africans in four years. Leaders attributed the progress to major South African companies partnering with the non-profit organisation, and acknowledged that the numbers could be higher considering the unemployment crisis in South Africa. (Image source: Tom Barrett / Unsplash)

‘The fact that two out of three youth are currently unemployed keeps us awake at night,’ said Youth Employment Service CEO Ravi Naidoo as the service marks the 100,000 milestone for placing young people in entry-level jobs.

Kgomotso Seku was beginning to feel depressed after she was unemployed for half a year after obtaining a BSc in mathematics at the University of Pretoria.

Despite the high unemployment rate, she hoped her qualification would be sought after and set her up for employment. Coming from a rural area, she struggled to get telecoms data and transport to aid her job hunting.

“It was hard to get transport money to travel to Pretoria or Johannesburg to attend interviews. I used to go to a local school near my home which had WiFi to send my documents and check for job posts. I came across the YES programme and filled out my information on their site. I took assessments and was called in for an interview with Nedbank,” said Seku.

In 2019 she began working as a data management trainee at the bank and has worked her way up by undergoing continuous training with the Youth Employment Service (YES) and Nedbank. Now she has been promoted to business intelligence data analyst in the bank’s wealth division.

Seku is one of 100,000 previously unemployed young people who has been afforded entry-level positions through YES in collaboration with some of the biggest companies in SA, such as Shoprite and BMW, over the past four years.

She says her life has changed as she has managed to build her family a home back in her village. Of the eight adults in her family, she is the only one who is employed and she helps take care of them.

Youth Unemployment Service logo

YES marked 100,000 jobs given to young South Africans in four years.
(Photo: Twitter)

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Economy and Business Environment – without a silver bullet, we need collective action on the youth unemployment crisis

YES Chief Executive Ravi Naidoo said the value of the programmes was not only in providing income but also helping graduates network and get a foot in the door, which might lead to other opportunities.

Naidoo said YES aimed not only to provide internships but quality work experience.

He explained how the programme works. 

“Businesses place or sponsor unemployed youth in 12-month work experiences that are fully funded by the private sector, giving them the critical experience and skills that they need to secure future employment. In the process, these work experiences have seen R6-billion in salaries injected into local economies across South Africa.

“We haven’t just created 100,000 jobs. We’ve given young people the skills, work experience, and social networks they need to contribute to the economy for the next 40 years and beyond. It is these future professionals, entrepreneurs and change-makers who will drive our economic prosperity in the years to come,” Naidoo explained.

“The fact that two out of three youths are currently unemployed keeps us awake at night. It must do the same for all of South Africa, especially corporations.”

With 61% of YES participants coming from social grant-recipient households and 77% with dependants, their incomes benefit entire families and even communities. These young people also work in industries and roles that build their local villages, towns and economies.

Youth Unemployment Service

YES has surpassed the 100 000 job mark, 61% of the assisted youth come from grant-recipient households. From left to right, advanced drone pilot, Mawande Faniso, Business Intelligence Data analyst, Kgomotso Sekhu and Timothy Schultz in Sandton.
(Photo: Des Ingham – Brown)

Given the low rates of economic growth, Naidoo said South Africa is currently producing neither the volume nor type of jobs required to reverse the unemployment trend. More than 400,000 job-seekers enter the market every year, but the country has only created an average of 150,000 net jobs per year over the past 10 years.

“What we need are jobs and initiatives that have a multiplier effect down the line. We must find ways to turn one job into 10 or more. This can only be made possible by unleashing the potential of the country’s youth, creating a talent pipeline for young people from poor households to enter the economy and become the drivers of the changes that the country so desperately needs.

“If South Africa is to succeed over the next 10 years, we need to get as many of our talented youth as possible into meaningful roles in the economy,” he said.

YES has a zero-rated website where graduates and unemployed young people can look for opportunities. MC/DM


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