Creating employment for young people now more important than ever

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Why should young people, who often have no skills and no experience, be employed?

The answer is that it will contribute to growing talent, help with workforce planning and diversity, find unique skills and talents, increase adaptability and offer more opportunities.

In March this year, Statistics SA announced that the unemployment rate fell to 32.7% in the last quarter of 2022 from 32.9% in the July-September 2022 period. Most of the unemployed are young people and although there is a lot of talk about employing the youth, nothing much happens.

Youth unemployment is one of the largest global challenges and is particularly high in South Africa as many young job seekers are excluded from the social networks as a result of living in a non-working household, being spatially isolated, or racial and gender issues,” says Yuneal Padayachy, member support executive at the BEE Chamber.

This is why young people must be employed
He says all sectors in the economy should employ young people in South Africa for these reasons:

  • Growing talent and workforce planning

One the largest challenges entities face is succession planning. What happens when the current experienced workforce retires? Who will take their places?

“For example, an entity where an individual worked in the same position for 20 years and nobody really knows how he works but he always meets deadlines and gets the job done. Once this person leaves the entity or retires, there is a gap that needs to be filled, but nobody is in line to take over this position,” Padayachy says.

“Entities must ensure that they remain competitive, as well as grow talent and plan for the future. That starts by investing in the youth.”

  • Workforce diversity

Young people in the working environment brings about a sense of diversity where everyone is not the same age and have different views.

  • Unique skills and talents

Young people bring about a new way of thinking within the work environment offering fresh, new ideas that will have impact on an entity and its operations.

“As we all know that technological advances are made on a daily basis, young people are considered to be quite tech savvy and in the work environment, this can be effective and efficient.”

  • Adaptability

Padayachy says young people are also quite adaptable in a workplace situation. “When change happens in the workplace or something new is introduced, employees must adapt to the change in order to be successful.”

  • Opportunities

“Providing an opportunity to a young person, this is the starting point of their career. This is where their journey starts to earn a living and often the starting point of changing a life,” says Padayachy.

Is it only the private sector that must employ young people? Padayachy says government and the private sector are responsible and must proactively find ways to mitigate high unemployment rates with a particular focus on the youth.

“I had the pleasure of being a part of the Youth Employment Services (Y.E.S.) initiative that tackles youth unemployment since inception. It is a key project introduced in 2018 to reduce youth unemployment.”

Y.E.S. initiative
The Y.E.S Initiative provides for and institute Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) recognition for Y.E.S measured entities and qualification criteria applicable to B-BBEE recognition for job creation.

It also seeks to tackle the issue of unemployment and place black unemployed young people in jobs to gain experience.

“This initiative aims to improve the grim employment outlook for young work seekers by offering a quality work experience over a period of 12 months. This in turn should improve their chances of finding a job or starting their own businesses,” Padayachy explains.

Only individuals who meet these criteria are eligible for participation under the Y.E.S Initiative from a B-BBEE Perspective:

  • Young people must be between the ages of 18 and 35 and
  • meet the definition of “Black People” as defined in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act as amended.

“Amongst the B-BBEE recognition awarded, entities are also eligible to access the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI). The Y.E.S. initiative does not only offer benefits to the individual, as the entity will benefit too.”

Padayachy says a commitment to an ongoing drop in unemployment figures, it is imperative that we prioritise investing in youth with a particular focus on young black people.

Ina Opperman/The Citizen