Saying YES to sustainable economic growth & transformation in uncertain times
South Africa was once revered as Africa’s economic powerhouse, boasting sophisticated first-world financial markets and a fast-paced emerging economy all under the hopeful banner of the ‘rainbow nation’.
The nation also managed to grow itself into an entrepreneurial and diverse investment environment with a global competitive edge and opportunities for its youth.
However, we’ve faced a tough 10 years on the back of lagging economic growth, fatigued business and consumer confidence as well as rising unemployment under the cloud of state capture, that according to President Cyril Ramaphosa cost our economy on the upwards of R500 million.
The most pressing of these issues is the high unemployment rate of over 50% plaguing the country, undermining the nations National Development Plan.
Black youths face the heightened risk of long-term unemployment as they must deal with hostile living conditions and social circumstances on top of the lack of work opportunities.
Many young people live on the outskirts of economic centres of activity where the travel and administrative costs involved in a job search can quickly become expensive and unaffordable for the very people who need employment the most.
This presents a ticking-time bomb for the country when young people cannot get the opportunities to nurture their career development and eligibility to enter the labour force, making this the time for us to take seriously the role we play in driving the economy and being the change we want to see.
The Youth Employment Service initiative, a business led collaborative with government, launched in 2018, with the aim to create a million job opportunities for youth with a minimum stipend of R3,500 a month.
The new DTI B-BBEE codes envisions creating jobs for young people in all sectors by giving them critical skills to either gain experience for the workplace or drive innovative business solutions they can take back to their communities.
So far, nearly 400 companies have already taking advantage of the new benefit aimed at prioritising youth employment on the national agenda.
For the businesses to get bumped up a level or 2 the initiative focuses on priority elements: Ownership, Skills Development and Enterprise and Supplier Development.
Where there is no black ownership, the average calculation of sub-minimums will be applicable and if the measured entity meets the minimum number of points under Skills Development, they will be able to participate under the YES initiative.
However, even if a business has no black ownership it can still qualify for the YES benefit.
Despite this, many businesses struggle to see the benefit of the YES initiative and how to implement it in their business beyond the bump up on their B-BBEE scorecard.
When young people gain the opportunity to be exposed to the workplace through the program, they not only get practical work experience but also soft skills such as confidence, discipline, work ethic, accountability and interpersonal skills.
The YES initiative is not just about upskilling young people for employment but also for them to become job creators and innovators themselves, creating businesses that can service and uplift their own communities by embracing entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship in an economy experiencing jobless growth does two things according to the YES program. It can cultivate a strong work ethic and develop life and professional skills among youths with no employment opportunities elsewhere.
It also stimulates economic activity without resorting to inefficient top-down job creation schemes from government. Entrepreneurs take advantage of market gaps by developing goods and services to the benefit of consumers and, in the case of social enterprises especially, wider society. This is the key to re-engineering jobless growth, creating new markets and stimulating economic activity in a way that leads to a rise in employment levels in the communities that need it the most.
Traverse Advisory, in conjunction with the YES Initiative, held an information session for a number of business owners on the opportunities that YES can offer in terms of contributing to sustainable economic growth and transformation.
It’s CEO Dr Tashmia Ismail-Savile says the incentive has proven popular with businesses across the spectrum and that they regularly field questions related to whether businesses with limited black ownership can participate.
The incentive has a number of multi-nationals and family-owned businesses which have participated in YES and received their B-BBEE level-ups.
A ‘first chance’ is often all it takes to unleash the potential of a young person. YES focuses on previously disadvantaged youth and gives them the chance to demonstrate their abilities, establish their work ethic and prove their worth.
The end result of the work experience is a CV, a reference letter, credibility and an empowered young person who has access to a digital platform to gain future work or entrepreneurial journey.
YES has created over 31,000 jobs wit over 550 businesses participating and over 100 having received their B-BBEE level-ups already. R1.4 billion in youth salaries has been generated through YES, making the initiative the highest impact social initiative in the world, be part of the change you want to see.
YES is an opportunity for business to be part of the change they want to see, where together with government and labour, we transform South Africa’s skewed economic reality.