Vodacom is announcing today that it has formed a partnership with the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) and eight institutions of higher learning to provide 500 post-graduate training and internship opportunities for young graduates, who face the grim prospect of unemployment.
Youth unemployment is one of South Africa’s most stubborn challenges the country is facing. The problem of youth unemployment has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which started as a health crisis, but quickly snowballed into an economic and social crisis. According to the National Income Dynamics Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), the first wave of the survey found that approximately 2.8 million people lost their jobs over the lockdown period, representing an 18% decline in employment.
A StatsSA Q4:2020 unemployment report released in April 2021 shows there were 39,3 million people of working age in South Africa, of which 22,3 million were in the labour force while 17,1 million were not economically active. Out of 39,3 million people of working age in South Africa, 20,5 million were youth aged 15 – 34 years in Q4: 2020. The youth unemployment rate in South Africa was 46,1% in Q4: 2020.
Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer: Consumer Business for Vodacom South Africa said: “For South Africa, the Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated our structural inequalities and laid them bare. The pandemic worsened the problem of youth unemployment and we are now faced with an alarming unemployment rate among youths aged 15-34. As a long-standing partner of government in partnership with W&RSETA, we have teamed up to create 500 internships for young people that recently graduated from TVET Colleges and Universities. This is part of our Social Contract to respond to some of the pressing socio-economic challenges plaguing our society today.”
Peter Shoba, Acting Chief Operating Officer for W&RSETA said: “Through this project, the W&RSETA is facilitating partnerships between Vodacom and Higher Education Institutions with the aim of exposing unemployed graduates to a diverse organisation that will provide them with experience to make them employable, and in turn, these graduates will also share some of the knowledge they have acquired with the employer, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship. The W&RSETA commends Vodacom for opening its workplaces to provide the much-needed experience to these young people.”
The internship programme is designed to give young graduates workplace experience as this will improve their chances of getting employment in today’s tough job market. Research shows that most unemployed youth in the country are struggling to secure fulltime employment because they don’t have work experience and this programme is designed to plug this gap. It is borne out of the desire to give youth a fighting chance in this tough economy.
The programme will run for 12 months and graduates will be deployed in different areas within the business such as Vodacom Stores, Customer Care, Marketing, Consumer Business Unit and Enterprise Business Unit division, Vodacom ICT Centers, to mention a few. Graduates will earn a monthly stipend. The 12 months programme is designed such that graduates gain exposure to business, strategy formulation and implementation, and decision making at the highest levels at Vodacom. They will be rotated to various departments on a three months basis to give them exposure to various areas of the business.
Successful candidates will be deployed in the following Vodacom Regions: Eastern Cape (100), Limpopo (200), KZN (100) and Central Region (100) covering Free State and Northern Cape provinces. Graduates are being sourced from Letaba TVET College, Central University of Technology, eThekwini College, University of Fort Hare, Ingwe TVET College, Buffalo City TVET College, Eastcape Midland College and Port Elizabeth College.
The new cohort started early this month, with the last intake starting in July 2021. The recruitment is facilitated by TVET Colleges and is done based on Vodacom’s requirements and in line with W&R SETA’s scope of work. The programme looks to recruit interns who have studied Sales & Marketing, Information Technology, Business Management and Communication. Successful candidates will undergo a comprehensive induction programme in Vodacom, covering understanding Vodacom’s business, our product and services and organisational culture.
“As a company with deep local roots in South Africa, we have always recognised the need to develop local youth with relevant tools and support mechanisms to help them reach their true potential and destiny. It is our hope, that this programme will in some small way contribute to the closing of skills gap among youth and that local youth will take the opportunity to apply and flourish in their chosen career paths,” concluded Mendes.