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Heroes fighting youth unemployment, one job at a time

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and they almost never wear capes – and in South Africa, our heroes come in the shape of companies stepping up to provide relief to the crippling youth unemployment crisis in the country.

With an expanded youth unemployment rate of 74.7% for youth aged 15-24, according to Stats SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) report – this means that three out of every four young people are without an income.

As we wrap up Social Development Month this October, with the theme of ‘Working Together to Build Caring and Sustainable Communities for All’, it’s fitting to acknowledge the contribution made by commercial enterprises to help alleviate the employment crisis in South Africa.

Through partnerships with the Youth Employment Service (YES), over 1,682 small and big companies in South Africa are working to create opportunities for unemployed young people by providing a 12-month work experience, thereby equipping them with a toolkit to enter the job market.

YES, together with two hero companies, have recently stepped up and offered their help and expertise to get the young people of South Africa working. The Shoprite Group and Toyota have opened their doors and offered employment experiences for more than 10,228 young South Africans. Toyota and Shoprite are just two of the many commercial companies that have partnered with YES to offer employment and hope to the millions of unemployed young people in our country.

“The Shoprite Group was a first responder to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to the nation to support the YES initiative and has been the highest-impact employment creator through the YES programme to date. We are fully aligned and committed to the President’s vision encapsulated in the YES programme,” said Pieter Engelbrecht, Shoprite Holdings CEO.

Shoprite has employed 5,648 young people over the course of three YES programmes with a 66:34 female to male gender ratio. The retail giant has also recently registered for their fourth programme which will see a further 1,720 youth employed, bringing Shoprite’s total youth jobs created to 7,368. These young people are employed as project clerks, marketing administrators, cashiers, data base administrators and drivers.

Toyota has employed 2,280 young people over the course of three YES programmes, with jobs offered in diverse fields as artisans, assistant mechanics, website developers and client engagement interns. They have been placed in seven provinces across the country, with a strong presence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

“As our country faces an unemployment crisis, being part of the YES programme makes absolute sense for Toyota South Africa Motors. Knowing that we have made a difference in the South African economy is one of the most humbling experiences – one of which we are proud,” says Jenny Mare, General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Toyota.

This is what it means for a young woman who has been given an opportunity by Toyota: Tumelo Masegela is a 28-year-old from Diepsloot who matriculated in 2012. “I was unemployed and had given up hope of finding employment, until I was introduced to the YES programme. I have learned how to use a computer and improve my communication skills. I now have a job and want to study economics and work with big companies.”

Since being founded over two and half years ago, and with no government funding, YES has worked with more than 1,682 South African companies to create 66,293 work experiences. These partnerships have resulted in more than R3.7 billion being ploughed into communities and the economy through youth wallets.

“Interventions between the government and private sector are needed to stimulate job creation. At YES, our business-led collaboration seeks innovative ways to curb youth unemployment.

“88% of YES Youth come from grant recipient households, and 91% have dependents, meaning that the work corporate clients, YES and implementation partners do together, goes far beyond the individual young person. It has a ripple effect, impacting families and communities,” says YES acting co-CEO, Leanne Emery.

“Simply put, we either get youth working, or our country won’t work.”

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