President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Youth Employment Service Initiative at the Riverside Incubation Hub in Midrand earlier this year. GCIS
Durban - The business, labour and government-led youth job creation initiative launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March has signed up more than 60000 young people and hundreds of companies have stepped forward to get involved. But many small businesses have not yet realised the benefits.

Youth Employment Services (YES) chief executive Dr Tashmia Ismail Saville said the jobs website had attracted previously disadvantaged people with varying levels of skills between the age of 18 and 34, and 220 companies had registered with the programme.

“There are approximately six million young people who are shut out of the economy.

“We are seeking out ways through innovation and technological best practice to create one million jobs for South Africa’s youth,” Saville said.

Saville said the wheels of the programme started turning when the Department of Trade and Industry gazetted the practice note on October 12.

“The practice note sets out the DTI’s rules for compliance and implementation under the Broad Based Black Economic Codes of Good practice. Now that the legal framework is in place we are going full steam ahead and YES is able to register companies and mobilise the initiative to enable real Broad Based transformation through new job creation. Within this short time frame we have already placed 4 099 youth and the interest from organisations has been very positive” Saville said.

She said a further 1 500 committed to start work on December 1.

Youth have been placed in sectors ranging from banking, telecommunications, insurance and retail to oil and gas firms and small businesses.

Youth who had signed up had varied skills levels. “Post grads, however, are rare as most of these individuals are less likely to work for an entry-level salary. We are now anticipating an influx of new matriculants. Interestingly, we have noted that an alarming 56% of these job seekers do not have matric,” Saville said.

She said firms already involved with the programme included Investec, Netcare, Sasol, ABSA, Unilever and Goldman Sachs.

“We have had many success stories to date and many organisations have been pleasantly surprised with the skill set,” Saville said.

Companies have to meet certain criteria on the scorecard to be eligible for the YES Programme to participate for B-BBEE purposes.

“This will afford them with the opportunity to gain one or two levels up on their B-BBEE scorecard.

“In addition companies that employ youth between the ages of 18 and 29 years old will qualify for the employment tax incentive,” Saville said.

SMMEs can contribute by employing young people for 12 months, with a corporate sponsoring their salary.

Lee du Preez, managing director of BEE Novation, a Pietermaritzburg-based consultancy specialising in transformation services, said businesses had expressed some concern regarding the technicalities of how the youth employment programme would be rolled out.

“Our experience so far is that a lot of small businesses are not aware that they have access to the benefit of free labour for a year paid for by a large corporate,” Du Preez said.

BEE Novation will host a BEE Seminar in Durban on November 23 in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry and Youth Employment Services, supported by Izwi Lethu.

The Mercury