How YES4Youth Is Helping Youth Access Job Opportunities

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The youth unemployment rate in South Africa is currently 43.4%. The Youth Employment Services has become a beacon of hope, providing not only job opportunities but also comprehensive support, skills development, and a platform for young people to get started in the world. 

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Millions of young people are desperate to enter the labour force and contribute to their households. However, several challenges often prevent youth from doing so. There are programmes available to help youth gain valuable knowledge, skills and work experience which set them on a path of success. 

Careers Portal spoke to Aditi Lachman, Head of Youth Programmes at the Youth Employment Service (YES) to discuss the organisation's initiatives and efforts aimed at reducing youth unemployment in South Africa. 

The Youth Employment Service (YES) programme was created by the private sector in response to the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa. The initiative was started with no government funding in an effort to draw youth to the private sector and provide them with valuable job opportunities. 

Over the past five years, YES has created more than 125,000 jobs for young people in South Africa. 

YES is fully focused on collaborating with businesses to create quality work experiences for youth.

The YES program collaborates with more than 1,500 private sector companies to offer 12-month fully funded quality work experiences for youth. 

At YES, we constantly work to create pathways to bridge the gap for young people – to put them on a multiplier pathway where they not only impact their own careers but also those in the community and the general work environment."

Lachman explains that the programme focuses on three key aspects including job experience, building social networks, and providing skills for employability and entrepreneurship.

While these three aspects are all extremely important, assisting youth in building social networks is an often underrated action. 

Many young people in South Africa come from disadvantaged backgrounds which limits their ability to access and build social networks. By helping young people build social networks, whether it be by sharing information, resources or opportunities, you provide them with a greater chance of success. 

The backgrounds that they come from often limit them in the types of networks they have and so through through this YES programme, being able to put unemployed youth into corporate environments is allowing them to mix and diversify their social networks even more allowing youth to build a network with the people that can help them advance in their careers 

Lachman says the organisation is committed to opening up opportunities for young people in a wide range of industries. These industries include traditional sectors like retail and tourism as well as future-facing industries like artificial intelligence and drones. 

They also took time to emphasise the importance of soft skills, such as communication and professionalism, alongside technical skills.

Several challenges are often faced by young job seekers, including the need for experience and the impact of mental health on the job search process. The interview encourages youth to build confidence, take care of their mental health, and develop entrepreneurial skills.

We aim to equip youth with a toolkit to make a life and be the someone they have the potential to be.

In addressing the broader issue of youth unemployment, Lachman emphasises the impact of the economy and education levels. The YES program aims to bridge the gap by providing opportunities and skills development for young people.

Lachman emphasised the significance of soft skills, building confidence, and addressing mental health. They also highlight the role of communities in raising awareness and providing access to opportunities for young people. 

Promoting confidence, promoting a growth mindset, and promoting access to opportunities is so important to help grow young people within South Africa

So Can You Access These Opportunities?

South African youth between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up for the SAYouth platform. SAYouth is a free and zero-rated national platform that connects talented and engaged work seekers to various opportunities

The platform connects youth to the YES programme, Full-time jobs, Part-time jobs, Learnerships, Volunteering and learning opportunities.

How The YES Programme Works

The first step is registering for the SAYouth Platform. The platform will try and match an individual's skills to available working opportunities. If their profile matches with one of these opportunities, they will be shortlisted and could even be called to interview for a role. 

If a young person is interviewed and selected, they will sign their contract to start their YES placement. They will then receive a smartphone and preloaded YES applications. Youth must ensure they have proof of address and a copy of their ID copy for the RICA process. 

They will then be required to fill in and sign the checklist in their welcome pack. They will then have to log in to the YES youth app and complete their profile and baseline survey. Youth will need a valid email address and cell phone number for this. 

On the job, learning will follow. Youth will start their work-readiness mules and build their skill sets. They will be required to complete monthly surveys on the YesLife Application. After completing the programme they will receive a comprehensive CV, reference letter and certificate of completion. 

There are several post-programmed pathways available to youth following completion of the YES programme. This includes being absorbed into the organisations they were placed in during their YES year, applying for jobs, pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities or furthering their training/learning. 

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