SA President Ramaphosa: YES to Upskill Youth for Industrial Revolution

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Youth Employment Service (YES), which aims to prepare young people for employment, forms part of a broader plan to impart technical skills that will underpin the industrialisation of the economy. “We see this initiative as one pillar of a broad and comprehensive national effort to create opportunities for young people. Another, central, pillar of this effort must be the development of the skills and capabilities of young people,” said the President.

The initiative, which is a joint effort by government, labour and business, aims to see more than one million young South Africans being offered paid work experience over the next three years. The programme follows research undertaken by stakeholders which shows that one year of work experience, coupled with a CV and reference letter increases a young person’s chances of finding employment by three times. At the launch, President Ramaphosa was introduced to the first 100 young people who will be employed at ABSA, Investec, Netcare, Sasol and Unilever through the YES programme. Akani Mbondzisa, a 26-year-old from Summerset in Mpumalanga, said he was particularly excited as he wants a job to support his daughter.

“Last year, I was unemployed for a year and whenever I applied they said they want a year’s experience. Once I get the experience, I will be able to work and support my daughter,” he said. According to YES CEO Tashmia Ismail-Saville, out of a youth population of 15.5 million, 5.8 million of these people aged 18-34 are unemployed. Ismail-Saville said the initiative particularly aims to create opportunities for those who lack the necessary skills required by companies for formal employment.“YES aims to give that portion of our youth, which are largely overlooked by the country’s current employment models, a crucial first chance to gain a paid work experience of a decent quality. Youth will not be excluded based on academic ability, or skills they may or may not possess,” said CEO Ismail-Saville.

Small businesses called to play their part

YES CEO called on small businesses to play their part as they have a huge employment base.

“Large businesses alone cannot absorb sufficient numbers of youth. Over two thirds of South Africa’s current employment base is medium-sized companies and smaller, making it critical that they [small business] are involved with the programme,” said CEO Ismail-Saville.

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