The YES programme aims to create 1 million jobs for young people, but more than that, after the 12 month placement is over, the young person emerges better experienced and qualified, with a verified CV and references, much better equipped to enter the formal job market as a result. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – By far the worst impacted by South Africa’s unemployment statistics are the young people of our country, with more than 6 million of them without work. 

Many of these 6 million have never been employed at all and fall into the category of “can’t get a job without experience and can’t get experience without a job”.

Internship programmes offer a win-win situation for young people and corporates alike, with one of the most successful being the Youth Employment Scheme (YES). 

At Proudly SA, we have an excellent track record of taking on interns – we recently added two from the YES initiative but have previously recruited interns through traditional advertising. 

More than 10 of those recent interns who have gained invaluable work experience with us across all our departments have been retained on a permanent basis and our most successful story to date is the elevation to the position of HR manager of one of them who joined us some years ago.

The YES programme aims to create 1 million jobs for young people, but more than that, after the 12 month placement is over, the young person emerges better experienced and qualified, with a verified CV and references, much better equipped to enter the formal job market as a result. The companies that take on YES interns benefit by earning significant B-BBEE points, giving them an overall better score which since the changes in the scoring system is of immense value to them.

YES offers different programmes, including sending recruits to companies looking to better their B-BBEE credentials, and those who are not, as well as offering individual donors the opportunity to donate towards the specific goals of candidates in a kind of crowd-funding process. 

YES has more than 450 companies registered as employers of interns and from the high profile publicity campaign that I have heard running on the radio currently, it seems they are looking to increase this massively. They have provided more than 25 000 committed work experiences (of which both we and National Mentorship Movement - NMM - can account for a number!) and boosted the B-BBEE rating of many companies in the process. 

Another important instrument to address our unemployment challenge is mentorship. Mentors can have a major impact on the eventual success or failure of a young person entering the real world of work for the first time. 

Many companies, including our own, offer internal support structures, a sympathetic ear or shoulder and words of advice and encouragement when needed, but many do not have the capacity to nurture young, inexperienced interns and so outside help is needed. 

A Proudly South African member, the NMM exists to provide formalised mentorship to these people on a volunteer basis. NMM’s co-founder and chief executive Dave Wilson says: “Mentorship can increase the impact of initiatives that address unemployment and the resultant deterioration in social cohesion significantly, as the mentor can be the catalyst who ignites all the elements in the intervention and adds access to support, networks and opportunities.”

Global research and NMM’s own experience have shown that young people who are mentored are more likely to aspire to enrol in and graduate from colleges, to volunteer and participate in community projects, hold leadership positions in sports clubs, school councils and similar structures, and that SMMEs whose leaders are mentored are twice as likely to survive for five years or more than small businesses that do not.

NMM mobilises people who volunteer their time as mentors, connecting them to those who could benefit from mentorship, and transforming their lives. 

NMM provides the on-boarding process and manages the relationship over 12 months. They currently have more than 1 000 volunteer mentors and are managing more than 520 relationships, which equates to more than R14 million mentorship value. 

We cannot afford to have successive generations of young adults who have zero experience of working in whatever sector or environment. Who will replace our generation when we retire, if not our children? 

Along with buying local as a means of driving job creation, taking on interns and mentoring our talent are tried and tested methods of up-skilling our unemployed masses.

If you have even one role within your company that could be created for or fulfilled by an intern, please consider internship and even more beneficial, a YES internship as your next source for recruiting. And if you have 35 hours per year to offer to someone who could benefit from your experience, register as a volunteer mentor on the NMM website www.mentorshipmovement.co.za 

On a gospel note this week, Joyous Celebration sings “… Don’t watch me and not take me seriously as my time is coming” in their hit song Oska Ntsheba Wa Nnyatsa. This should be the mantra of the young, in the hope that corporate SA and our SMMEs will open up opportunities for them to develop and hone their skills in order that they are equipped for future opportunities within the SA economy.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly SA.

BUSINESS REPORT