The CEO Initiative has joined a chorus of organisations that have welcomed the launch of the Youth Employment Service (YES), a government-led programme that aims to offer one million unemployed youth an opportunity at a work experience.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the YES initiative would improve young people’s prospects of finding employment and would help to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
The YES programme, an initiative between business, government, labour, civil society and young people,was launched at the Riverside Incubation Hub in Fourways, Johannesburg, on Tuesday
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.
Those businesses which do not have the capacity to place more people in their organisations have the option of sponsoring the salary for a one-year placement in small and medium enterprises or to help young people start and grow their own businesses through seed funding.
Jabu Mabuza, co-convenor of the CEO Initiative, said that the YES initiative was a practical partnership between stakeholders that uses the funding, skills and organisation of businesses, the incentives and regulatory power of government, the co-operation of labour and the participation of communities.
Mabuza said that the business community recognised that no one single actor can overcome the country’s challenges alone.
“We are delighted to join the president and YES team in launching this unique programme focused on giving some of our most vulnerable young people a first chance at a decent opportunity to gain experience in a work environment,” Mabuza said.
“We, as business, recognise the national risk posed by the high unemployment rate amongst youth and YES represents a practical response by business to tackle this issue. Its success will be a great example of what we can do when we work together towards a common objective.”
Businesses wishing to participate in YES can either create additional one-year paid work opportunities over and above their existing headcount, or – where a business does not have the capacity to accommodate more people in the business – sponsor a salary and support costs for a one-year starter position at an SMME.
These SMMEs are not necessarily located in the urban areas and in this way, new starters can find work experience in areas where they live.
Colin Coleman, managing Director of Goldman Sachs in South Africa, and Stephen Koseff, chief executive of Investec Group, co-convenors of the YES work stream on behalf of the CEO Initiative, also lauded the YES initiative.
“We are delighted that this service has finally come to fruition. Businesses have already been positively receptive to the programme, but we appeal to the entire private sector – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises in all areas of the country – to participate.”
Meanwhile, the South African Youth Council (SAYC) also welcomed the launch of the YES Initiative, saying that it will go a long way in making the much needed dent in the youth unemployment plight.
SAYC president, Thembinkosi Josopu said: “Though it will not be a panacea to the unemployment challenge we face, it will, however, go a long way in getting young people job ready and developing township SMMEs through the community hubs. We hold a view that young people won’t eat revolutionary sounding slogans but want opportunities to showcase their capabilities.”