Absorption: A Key Strategy For Tackling Youth Unemployment

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One promising solution to South Africa’s high youth unemployment rate lies in Absorption, a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) strategy that drives long-term employment and addresses the urgent need for job creation.

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Rajan Naidoo, Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy, highlights that this initiative extends beyond job creation with the 2019 amendment to the Absorption element of the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice. He explains, “By integrating young, unemployed learners into sustainable long-term employment through the practice of Absorption, companies also benefit from B-BBEE scorecard points and a pool of trained talent. Furthermore, this approach enhances workforce diversity by providing invaluable opportunities to People with Disabilities.”

Understanding Absorption

Absorption refers to providing an apprentice or learner who completes their learnership programme with sustainable, long-term employment. As a B-BBEE initiative, it aims to empower previously disadvantaged individuals by incentivising the learner graduate’s integration into a company’s workforce.

“Qualifying for Absorption points requires companies to sponsor unemployed individuals for learnerships, followed by their placement into long-term employment in a role related to their qualification after graduation,” Naidoo further explains.

Successful Absorption delivers up to 5 bonus points, a significant incentive for companies looking to improve their B-BBEE status.

Absorption in Practice

Recognising the value of these bonus points, EduPower has successfully implemented an Absorption solution that provides employment opportunities for its learner graduates in various parts of the business, but primarily in its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) environment.

BPO is an excellent job opportunity with low barriers to entry, making it inclusive for People with Disabilities or those who haven't completed Grade 12,” Naidoo elaborates. “It is also an excellent springboard to other careers, offering real growth potential.

Over the years, EduPower has successfully absorbed many learner graduates into their team and other businesses in the group. Some have even ventured into self-employment. “Our graduates continue to develop professionally, gaining work experience and furthering their education, which significantly boosts their career prospects,” he proudly shares.

Pointers for Best Practices

Naidoo advises companies looking to implement Absorption as part of their B-BBEE strategy, to first create a supportive environment:

If you are considering implementing Absorption, you need to have a human-centric culture focused on development. This includes allocating funds for learnerships as well as the resources to get actively involved in the welfare and outcomes for the learners.

Working together with training providers, he adds that companies should ensure learners are equipped through the required work readiness programmes and mentorship initiatives to prepare them for full-time employment. Additionally, any negative behaviours exhibited by learners during the learnership, such as issues with time management and absenteeism, need to be addressed to improve their employability.

The Future

Looking ahead, Naidoo believes the transition to the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) framework may present challenges for companies wanting to absorb their learner graduates. He points out that the government needs to clarify how companies can still earn Absorption points within the annual cycle. Additionally, he raises concerns about the suitability of QCTO qualifications for lower-level unemployed candidates.

Despite these challenges, Absorption remains a vital strategy for tackling unemployment and fostering economic growth.

“To create the jobs that are needed for our youth, we have to move towards a practical system of education that prepares young people for real-world challenges. Learnerships followed by Absorption provide far more than just a job; they offer a pathway to sustainable employment and career growth, transforming lives and driving South Africa towards a more inclusive and prosperous future,” Naidoo concludes.

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