The YES Initiative is a collaborative effort, established in 2018, between South African workers, business and government to combat youth unemployment and boost the country’s economy. The goal is to create over one million new jobs for unemployed youth over the next three years. In a country with an unemployment rate approaching 28 percent, millions of which are younger people, such an initiative is very badly needed.
As of March 2019, over four hundred companies have joined the YES Initiative, providing YES youth with twelve months of employment within a minimum salary of R3500 a month, and opportunities to upskill and train to improve their chances of finding further employment. It is open to all unemployed black, Indian and Coloured youth between the ages of 18 and 35, and a Matric certificate is not a prerequisite. In this way, the unemployed youth currently locked out of the South African economy can become productive members of their communities, families and economies.
But the benefit is not only for the youth who gain employment via the YES Initiative. And it is not only the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing their bit to improve the quality of life for millions of South Africans that will draw businesses in. Because the Initiative is partly an amendment to the BBBEE Codes of Good Practice, there are definite BBBEE-linked benefits to joining the YES Initiative, for Exempt Microenterprises, Qualifying Small Enterprises, and generic enterprises alike. If certain youth job creation targets are met, the YES Initiative allows for companies to raise their BBBEE levels.
What are the BBBEE qualifying criteria for the YES Initiative?
To register with the YES Initiative, generic entities must score either a 40 percent subminimum of each of the three priority elements, or a 50 percent average across the priority elements. QSEs must score at least 40 percent in at least two of the three priority elements, including ownership. There are no subminimum requirements for Emerging Microenterprises (EMEs). Companies who wish to qualify must also have maintained or increased their BBBEE compliance level from the prior year.
How does joining the YES Initiative boost BBBEE scores for members?
Once they have qualified to join the YES Initiative, companies can improve their BBBEE levels according to how many jobs they create, whether these meet the targets set by the Initiative, and whether those youth who are placed by the Initiative
eventually become permanent employees. Youth placement targets vary according to the size of the enterprise involved. Generic enterprises, those with an annual turnover of over R50 million, have their targets determined by either the size of their workforce, their average NPAT, or their revenue range. Targets for QSEs and EMEs are set by the size of the workforce. Existing employees cannot be replaced by YES placements.
If YES targets are met, and 2.5% of the people placed by YES are absorbed to become permanent employees, the company’s BBBEE level will rise by one. If 1.5 times the YES targets are met and 5% of the placements are absorbed, the company’s BBBEE level will rise by one and they will receive three extra overall points in their scorecard. If double the YES target is achieved and 5% of placements are absorbed, the company will rise by two BBBEE levels. Also, companies can also claim up to half of their training spend on YES placements as Informal Training under their Skills Development spend.
Social responsibility and the YES Initiative
Businesses that can’t accept a youth from the YES Initiative because they do not have room for another employee can sponsor a post in an EME or a QSE. This means that all businesses with the means to do so can get involved in this muchneeded initiative. Businesses in South Africa have social responsibilities to their workers, their communities and their country as a whole – as well as financial responsibilities to themselves.