KIYARAN RYAN: The Youth Employment Service or YES is a South African non-profit [organisation], and it is making impressive strides in creating quality job opportunities for unemployed youth. It has worked with more than 1,900 companies and created more than 79,000 jobs in three years, bringing in 4.4 billion rupees to the economy through youth wages – all without government funding.

YES breaks the trap of experience that prevents young people from climbing the ladder of opportunity. In return the business can get up two levels up on its BEE [black economic empowerment] map of indicators.

To discuss this further, we were joined by Lien Emery Hunter, Director of Marketing and Customer YES. Lena, thank you for joining us. YES makes a difference among South African youth, but for those who have never heard of it, just explain what it is and how the program works.

Lynn Emery Hunter: A youth employment service exists to try to break the unemployment trap that many young South Africans face.

About 60% of young people in South Africa are currently unemployed, and we need to create the first job opportunity so you can break the trap: “I can’t get an experience without a job, and I can’t get a job without a job.” experience ‘.

We work with the private sector to create opportunities for young people. Businesses can host young people in their organizations as part of their regular conveyor management system, or they can sponsor youth work in NGOs [non-profit organisations) in under-capacitated sectors.

In return for creating these vital opportunities for youth, a business can gain one or two levels up on their BEE scorecard, or they can really integrate this into some of their sustainability strategies. For example, in the mining industry in particular, we’ve seen that YES and our model where youth are placed in jobs in communities is a wonderful way to help mining organisations deliver on their social and labour plans.

CIARAN RYAN: Okay, you are offering something called the YES Turnkey Solution, and that integrates with companies’ environmental, social and governance – or ESG – strategies, as it’s called. That can also integrate with the sustainable development goals, the SDGs. But explain from a mining company’s point of view how this could be adapted and used to align with the Mining Charter.

LEANNE EMERY HUNTER: We’ve done a lot of work in the last three years on developing this turnkey solution. What this is, is for any business that is unable to host youth within its own organisation, we have 33 vetted host or implementation partners, and these implementation partners work in under-capacitated sectors. So, these are generally NPOs and SMEs, sectors like healthcare, education, conservation, digital SMME development.

Corporates are sponsoring jobs in these sectors and so not only are they creating opportunities for these young South Africans, but the jobs themselves have such an amazing impact within communities [where] we have seen that the time of queues at clinics is reduced, [and increased] access to HIV treatment.

This works in that businesses not only benefit from the bees, but can also report some of the implications that these jobs create.

Namely for the mining industry we work with mining companies to help them in fulfilling their social and work plans. In this way, we will work with our corporate sponsors in communities, in mining communities and help them create opportunities for young people and at the same time build these communities around the mine. So by trying to develop these thriving communities, the jobs we help them create really create communities and help SMEs in the communities, making them potential.

And it’s just a great solution for mining organizations to be able to deliver on their local economic development plans and actually keep promises in their social and work plans.

KIYARAN RYAN: When we talked to YES before, we heard about some interesting examples of young people working with doctors, such as making sure patients attend the next appointment … But can you give us some examples of companies involved in YES turnkey solutions and how was it to their advantage?

Lynn Emery Hunter: We have businesses from the financial sector to the mining industry [where] it can indeed be integrated into their environmental, social and governance strategies and their sustainability goals.

For example, we may have a company that is really focused on creating green jobs, and in that case they will work with our conservation partners and we will help them in placing young people in conservation jobs.

From the healthcare field we have FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] companies, we have healthcare companies, [and] we have mining companies that create jobs in the healthcare sector.

We have one program where more than 71 young people are employed in clinics in the health sector; these are HIV testers, community coordinators and general support staff. It gives young people both a fantastic work experience and greatly improves HIV testing, tracking and awareness of prevention in these communities.

I think we’ve done over 24,000 HIV tests with 100% ownership of just one of the IPs we work with, and IPs are implementing partners. So we really see that not only do these jobs create this crucial first chance for a young person working, but also a real and significant impact on society.

Another major challenge we, as South Africans, face is the problem of spatial inequality, that so many young South Africans have to travel far to get to urban areas to get a job.

But what’s great about this model is that these young people actually work in communities. This shortens their travels and they can have a really significant impact in their communities.

KIYARAN RYAN: Good. Let’s talk for a moment about the youth. What benefits do they bring specifically? I think you are talking about rural communities there, about the difficulties that arise in young people with access to the labor market. Has this had a transformative effect in some of these rural communities where you work?

Lynn Emery Hunter: Absolutely. Research shows that the best way to get a job is to get a job and gain work experience. Indeed, what the Youth Employment Service is trying to do is break this trap of experience and provide the first job opportunity for young people – and especially young people who are not in Sandton and downtown Cape Town. This is how we give these opportunities to young people.

In addition to this there is indeed a small gap between the jobs that are provided and the skills that are.

I think we know that the first economy creates jobs. All of these industries create opportunities for skilled youth. But I think in the latest statistics I’ve seen that less than 50% of young people entering the job market have a matrix. There really is a discrepancy. So the great thing about this turnkey model is that young people can be hired in communities that don’t necessarily require a degree or some high level of skill. So it really gives them that opportunity and they can do work that really makes an impact.

We know that work or [some] work experience makes a young person three times more able to work. For a young woman is actually, interestingly, a resume [and] a letter of recommendation means they are twice as likely to get a job if they are interviewed. So, in fact, it is about breaking this trap, and today we see that about 40% of young people leaving the program get full-time jobs in the hosts where they are located. But, in any case, they are three times more able to work when they return to the workforce.

KIYARAN RYAN: And the last question is about the benefits for the country. What is the long-term vision of this program in terms of job creation opportunities and economic recovery? I mean 79,000 jobs created in three years, 4.4 billion rupees flowing into the economy through wages and so on – where do you see that in five or 10 years?

Lynn Emery Hunter: We are in the biggest crisis facing South Africa. If 60% of our youth are currently unemployed, what does this mean for the future of South Africa – not just for business, our economy, our nation. Thus, at the Youth Employment Service we are trying to find more and more innovative ways to work with business to break this trap of experience, employ young people so that they can quickly become economically active, participate in the economy and become future customers. and future taxpayers.

You know, of our youth YES 88% come from families that receive grants, and I think about 90% have dependents. Thus, the immediate effects of this salary on families and communities are only rippled [out] immediately.

When the Youth Employment Service started working, we were really focused on how we use this incentive, which we need to get corporations to join the Youth Employment Service.

But now with our turnkey model we see that other than BEE, this is a real solution for business, especially now that the mining industry is being considered. How do we integrate jobs outside of BEE?

We believe that our turnkey solution is a great way for businesses to create opportunities for young people who do not need to work in their own organizations.

These opportunities create inspiring, thriving communities and so easily integrate with ESG and SDG business strategies.

KIYARAN RYAN: This is one of the most inspiring stories we’ve heard in a long time, and we certainly look forward to tracking the progress of the Youth Employment Service program in the coming years.

Leanne Emery Hunter, we’re going to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us.

Presented to you by the youth employment service.

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