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Are hiring practices of youth inclusive? The experts weigh in

HAVING a driver’s license for a job may exclude some youth from getting a job.

HAVING a driver’s license for a job may exclude some youth from getting a job.

Published Apr 15, 2022

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GIVEN the unemployment crisis in South Africa, employers must pursue inclusive hiring practices where barriers to entry are relaxed to help accommodate young people, says the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

The NYDA is a South African-based agency established primarily to address challenges faced by the nation’s youth.

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Waseem Carrim, NYDA’s chief executive, said in an interview that where possible, employers should offer on-the-job training help to better prepare young people for the roles that they were expected to fulfil.

“Barriers to entry do not only have to be drivers’ licences. Research conducted by the agency and its partners suggests that many employment advertisements that are released, require for example a matric certificate, but with mathematics at a certain level, these requirements often are arbitrary and do not have an actual impact on the job performance,” Carrim said.

He gave a practical example. Earlier this month, The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) announced that it had established a Trainee Traffic Officer Program, which was at NQF Level 6, running over a period of three years where they invited interested youth to apply.

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The successful candidates would be required to enter a three-year contract with the RTMC. The training program would take place in Gauteng province or any other suitable training venue identified by the RTMC. Accommodation, meals, study material, stipend would be provided to successful candidates.

It said that candidates must be prepared to learn about all related fields and information concerning traffic law enforcement and road safety. These will include attending classes as well as field-related training.

To qualify for the NQF Level 6 Trainee Traffic Officer Program applicants must have a minimum qualification of a National Senior Certificate or National Certificate Vocational passed at Diploma adequate achievement, that was, level 4 (between 50-59 percent) and above. Candidates with a post-matric qualification would also be considered.

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The RTMC said the applicants should have Code B driving licence (manual transmission), no criminal record, South African citizenship, must have completed prescribed medical form by a registered medical practitioner as proof that the candidate may do strenuous exercise. The applicant must be under the age of 35 on the closing date of the advert, which is Sunday, April 24.

Carrim said according to the National Household Travel Survey of Statistics South Africa, roughly 34 million people held drivers’ licences and that would be between 60-65 percent of the eligible population.

This could mean that between 35-40 percent of youth might miss out from such a programme due to not meeting the licence requirement.

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The NYDA requested employers to be reflective in drafting advertisements and to try to be as cognisant as possible in understanding the challenges that young people faced in accessing the labour market.

Employers who were willing to offer on-the-job training for drivers’ licences, the implementation of drivers’ licences programs at schools prior to the conclusion of final examinations for those who had reached the age of 18 and greater collaboration between the transport industry and sector education authority in training for demand would help solve such an issue.

The NYDA also said that a pay for performance model where young people were trained for the jobs that were readily available and where placement could be achieved could also be developed.

However, Professor Lauren Graham , the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa director and associate, said employers could not be expected to remove entry requirements for a job if that qualification or requirement was essential for the job to be done.

However, employers could put in place entry level requirements that are not related to the requirements of the job using them as a way of sorting through respondents.

“In the absence of good matching mechanisms that can support employers to find the right kinds of candidates for the jobs, these kinds of entry-level requirements will remain in place. So there is a need to work with employers to ensure that they have effective recruitment practices that ensure they’re able to find the right candidates for the job, but also are not unnecessarily excluding people,” Graham said.

Graham, who is also a youth unemployment-related issues expert, said she did not think that all entry-level requirements were necessarily exclusionary.

Impact sourcing was a strategy where employers were encouraged to think about their recruitment practices and how they could be more inclusive (by for instance reconsidering entry-level requirements to make them more inclusive but also a better fit for the job that needs to be done).

“We need to be working with employers to think about their recruitment practices, but we also need to be working to ensure that young people are supported to ensure they meet many of the requirements, and that they understand what jobs are a good fit for their skills set and their strengths,” she said.

The RTMC’s spokesperson, Simon Zwane, said the work of a traffic officer includes driving vehicles to different spots where they are required to control traffic.

“Traffic policing is not an office-based job and therefore the requirement is not unreasonable.”

Since the RTMC was a statutory body established in terms of its own founding legislation, governed by a Board of Directors and has its own policies, the Minister of Transport could not comment on matters relating to the RTMC’s operational issues.

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