President Cyril Ramaphosa says that a five-year-old employment initiative is showing positive progress and is likely to provide even better results down the line.
In his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that a 2018 work experience program called the Youth Employment Service (YES) had provided over 100,000 South Africans between the age of 18 and 29 with a year of work experience in local businesses.
“Through YES, approximately R6 billion in youth salaries has been injected into the economy and has enabled participants to support their families,” said Ramaphosa.
The YES program came to fruition in partnership with private companies to address the crisis of youth unemployment and is part of the broader Presidential Youth Employment Intervention that includes various programmes to assist younger job seekers.
During his tenure, Ramaphosa has repeatedly mentioned the need for prospective employees to have valid work experience in order for more opportunities to be opened for them.
Back in August last year, he called on businesses across the country to upskill and hire more young people through incentivised tax reductions.
He said that South Africans face a major barrier to finding a job, with many businesses requiring some level of quality work experience and training prior to employment.
According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) published by Statistics South Africa showed that there were roughly 7.8 million unemployed people in the country during the final quarter of 2022.
The statistics further showed that the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased to 13.4 million.
Ramaphosa said the YES programme goes beyond creating jobs but also creates value for employers – facilitating the entry of more young South Africans into the mainstream of the economy.
“In this year already, YES has achieved a new record of 32,400 jobs. Currently, over 1,400 businesses participate in YES, and the aim is to increase the pace of placements as more companies come on board and more opportunities are made available,” said the president.
He added that research into the program has found that roughly 40% of participants are employed upon completion of the programme.
“An estimated 61% of YES participants come from households reliant on social grants,” Ramaphosa said.
Despite the positive signs from the YES programme, South Africa’s job prospects are likely to dwindle further, according to financial service firm PwC.
The group’s Employment Outlook Forecast predicts that the economy will only add approximately 200,000 jobs in 2023 due to revised GDP growth projections as published in January.
PwC said that the pandemic job bounce-back has ended, and economic growth is pushing the likelihood of the job market expanding lower.