By Daniel Orelowitz, Managing Director at Training Force
Having already created more than 82,000 work experiences while attracting over 2,200 corporate sign-ups that have assisted with more than 700 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) level-ups, the Youth Employment Service (YES) Initiative works toward making young South Africans employable. Through 12-month learnership and internship programmes, individuals gain quality work experience, with a minimum of 5% of learners absorbed into permanent employment at the end of their programme. In addition to equipping young individuals with skills that increase employability, the YES Initiative gives businesses with lower B-BBEE ranking the opportunity to boost their standing through efforts that identify and upskill top young talent with a view to joining their workforce.
Although the aim of this programme is to inspire corporates to focus on youth employability while gaining a B-BBEE scorecard advantage through improved post-learnership absorption, there are some factors for businesses to consider before taking the leap. Let’s look at what companies need to know before getting involved in such a win-win situation.
Addressing unemployment through enhanced employability
With their future heavily reliant on job readiness and ability to enter the labour market, South Africa’s youth is particularly vulnerable in an unstable economic climate. It is here that the YES Initiative, a South African Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) joint national initiative between business, government, and labour, can step in to address youth unemployment by upskilling individuals with real work experience that leads to increased job placement. All of which happens without state funding, relying entirely on the private sector to drive outcomes based on their desire to level up their B-BBEE score.
Upskilling and levelling up
For businesses that cannot advance their B-BBEE ranking, participation in the YES Programme is extremely attractive. Where businesses meet all the qualifying criteria and pre-conditions, which include delivering YES-specific learning programmes, they have the means to enhance their overall B-BBEE status by up to two levels. An enterprise can participate through facilitating 12-month work experience programmes for unemployed youth by either:
- Sponsoring and hosting youth within their business
- Sponsoring placements elsewhere within an existing SME/supply chain
- Providing hosting to the benefit of a new SME
Maximising the potential of YES
Depending on the size of the business and its turnover, YES targets will differ. In meeting such targets, businesses can progress one additional recognition level on their B-BBEE scorecards when they absorb or arrange permanent employment to 2.5% of their facilitated YES employees.
Organisations that go above and beyond the target by 1.5% and permanently employ 5% of the target group will gain one level recognition enhancement and three bonus scorecard points, while those that double the target will be enhanced two levels on their B-BBEE scorecards. For companies that have limited physical resources for running YES programmes in-house, there is the option of sponsored host placements.
Working within programme parameters
There are several limitations in place to prevent businesses from utilising the programme incorrectly. When it comes to placing learners in permanent employment at the end of their 12-month work experience, the company must create a new role for the learnership participant to meet the B-BBEE requirements for their score. In other words, it cannot be used to replace an employee that has been dismissed, or to fill a position that has remained vacant for an extended period. By creating a new role for learner absorption, corporates are positioned to train up talent in their company ethos to fulfil their future skills needs.
Leveraging the power of YES
Along with gaining the B-BBEE score benefits and tax breaks, organisations can also benefit from the ability to develop much-needed skills across their business and industry, at a reasonable cost. For unemployed youth, these work experience programmes are a critical steppingstone toward job market readiness. Through the YES programme, individuals benefit from the opportunity to gain work experience in the real world and showcase themselves in a manner that is not possible through other avenues available to job seekers.
Taking the effort out of saying YES
Between calculating targets and overseeing learnership programme progress, there can be a lot for businesses to manage. Partnering with a training provider that specialises in youth development is a sure-fire way to ensure that the full benefits are unlocked – both for the company and the young individuals that participate in such learnerships. A specialist training partner makes all the difference in ensuring that the correct skills are developed, and that individuals have access to mentorship that will give them a sense of direction and purpose on the career path they have chosen. Furthermore, a training provider partner can also help businesses to navigate the placement requirement, ensuring that all learners are properly and permanently placed to maximise scorecard benefits without major hassle.
Focusing on what’s important: youth skills development
For businesses, it’s essential to commit to youth skills development as they are the future of every workforce in every industry. I’ve seen first-hand how much untapped potential is waiting to be nurtured in South Africa’s youth. All they need is someone to take a chance on them and give them a foot in the door to prove themselves. For individuals who lack the resources or the means to get a foot in the door otherwise, the YES Initiative is the ideal opportunity. It is also an ideal opportunity for businesses to contribute in a meaningful way to talent and skills development in the country, while leveraging several other corporate benefits at the same time.