How SMEs Can Help Create More Jobs Through the YES Programme

Updated on 5 March 2019

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The success of the YES programme will come down to its implementation, says Jake Wills, CEO of Lulaway, a youth-focused job placement agency.

“While companies are open to the idea of the YES programme, the actual implementation proves challenging in certain aspects.

“Firstly, as a new programme there is a lack of understanding on how it works and how to ensure that B-BBEE recognition is achieved,” says Wills.

This was the driving force behind the Yes2Day initiative, a partnership between business incubator Raizcorp and Lulaway, a youth-focused job placement agency.

The initiative works to support the government’s Youth Employment Service (YES) Programme making it easier for corporates to participate in the programme.

“Yes2Day aims to focus on knowledge sharing, to enable businesses to understand exactly how it works and what is required,” says Wills.

Participation for corporates includes offering corporate work experience, SME development and SME host placements.

“The other challenge is when companies are not able to host youth internally. Finding a suitable SMME is extremely difficult, and then of course managing the youth monthly is resource intensive.”

About YES

The YES programme, an initiative between business, government, labour, civil society and young people, launched in 2018.

YES has been given a mandate by President Cyril Ramaphosa to create one million new 12 month work opportunities for youth in South Africa. Under the programme, businesses will create one-year paid positions for youth aged between 18 and 35 with a minimum paid stipend of R3,500 a month.

The YES initiative invites businesses to sponsor jobs for the unemployed and potentially climb two levels on the B-BBEE scorecard.

In a previous interview with SME South Africa YES CEO,  Tashmia Ismail-Saville, said at the moment their focus was on getting corporate partners onboard. She says a total of 248 companies in South Africa have joined YES to place youth for high quality 12-month work experiences within their own organisation or they’ve sponsored a youth placement in an SME (preferably within their own supply chain). Investec, Netcare, Sasol, ABSA, Unilever have already come onboard as sponsors.

For a  SME seriously considering participating in YES, here is what you need to know about their role in creating jobs. 

Q: How will the new partnership work to solve some of these challenges?

Yes2Day has an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the mechanisms of YES, from calculating target headcount and achieving B-BBEE recognition.

Furthermore, Yes2Day’s core competencies lies in implementing the programme from start to finish. From sourcing youth, identifying SMEs at which to place these youth if the company cannot absorb the youth themselves, and monthly reporting and payroll management Yes2Day allows a company to take maximum advantage with no effort or intense resource allocation.

Q: What are the benefits that businesses should be aware with hosting sponsored youth

The primary benefit is the ability to jump up to 2 B-BBEE levels, which is enormously valuable to a businesses ability to expand and have more opportunities for revenue.

Secondly, businesses can hire young people with potential to join the business permanently after 12 months if the company chooses. They can assess the suitability of these youth, without a long-term commitment, and can increase their talent with no risk.

Thirdly, a company can be confident that they are actively contributing to the transformation of our economy and people by creating a jobs. Increased youth employment means a bigger tax base, and a more robust economy which ultimately benefits everyone.

Q: How can businesses ensure that they are in compliance with YES?

The Yes4Youth website( explains very clearly how to comply with YES. The first thing to know is that YES is additive; meaning a company must maintain a minimum B-BBEE level to benefit from YES.

Then, a company must register on the YES website, as well as register youth employed and their employment status monthly. All youth also need to own a YES smartphone: A fully loaded smartphone, giving YES Youth a portal to access cutting edge digital and behavioural content work readiness training, basic business literacy, & motivational messages.

Q: Why was the issue of unemployment and the YES initiative one of interest to both Raizcorp and Lulaway?

Both Raizcorp & Lulaway are social enterprises committed to driving sustainable economic transformation. When the YES programme was launched, the two companies realized that they could create a unique shared offering, enabling YES to reach its potential in the private sector.

YES addresses the two pillars needed to grow an economy: youth employment and SMME development. Raizcorp and Lulaway understood the power of YES, and also realized that many companies may not have the resources, knowledge or expertise to implement it successfully. Should a company not be able to host candidates internally, sourcing a suitable SMME would be a considerable challenge, as would be managing the youth on a monthly basis. Yes2Day offers a complete solution to companies, allowing them to get the benefits without it draining their own resources.

Both Raizcorp & Lulaway are extremely optimistic about the power of the programme and are confident that if it’s easy and clear on how to participate, many companies will join YES.

Q: Besides helping to create employment, are there any other benefits that both businesses and youth can look forward to?

As explained above, businesses can look forward to increased business opportunities with the increase of B-BBEE levels. Young people can gain invaluable work experience, which they can use to grow in their career wherever they land up after the 12 month programme. They also increase their social networks which is proven to be a critical aspect to finding employment. Young people will know that they are productive members of the economy, creating a country of motivated, optimistic youth impacting the social fabric of society.

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