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Monday, 03 April 2023

Dear Fellow South African, 
Many young people in South Africa find it difficult to get jobs because they don’t have any work experience. They come out of school, university or college with qualifications, but many employers are looking for people with experience.
That is why, in 2018, we launched the Youth Employment Service (YES), an ambitious partnership with the private sector to address the crisis of youth unemployment. The initiative works with companies to provide work experience opportunities for young people. 
Five years later, the YES programme is helping to reduce youth unemployment in very practical ways.
To date, YES has placed over 100,000 South Africans between the ages of 18 and 29 in local businesses for a year of work experience.
Through YES, approximately R6 billion in youth salaries has been injected into the economy and has enabled participants to support their families.  
The YES programme is part of the broader Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which is government’s flagship initiative to respond to youth unemployment. It includes a range of programmes to help young South Africans transition from learning to earning.
Among these programmes is, a zero-rated mobile platform where young people can access opportunities and support. Over four million young people have already registered on the platform and many of the young people participating in YES were recruited through the platform.
An estimated 61% of YES participants come from households reliant on social grants. One participant, who was placed with Mercedes Benz for a year, was the sole breadwinner for a family of four. She told YES that not only was she able to support her family, she was also able to save up to start a broiler chicken business.
Many young people have been placed in future-facing industries such as IT, the green economy, systems and software engineering, app development and others.
In addition to facilitating work experience, YES also operates several training hubs across the country.
One of the YES participants was placed at the Drone Academy, a hub in Alexandra township in Gauteng that offers training in the maintenance, repair, servicing and operation of drones used for business. Having completed his training, he is now employed as a systems integration engineer with a leading Netherlands-based chip manufacturing firm.
Other hubs operated by YES offer training in IT, aquaponics and sustainable farming, culinary skills, textile manufacturing, ceramics and pottery, and automotive manufacturing.
According to research undertaken by YES, an estimated 40% of participants are employed on completion of the programme. One participant in the 2021 intake told YES how after completing the Multichoice Learnership Programme she went on to secure a permanent job with a multinational firm based in Gauteng.
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. 
What sets the YES programme apart is that it doesn’t just create meaningful jobs; it also creates value for employers that are able to facilitate the entry of more young South Africans into the mainstream of the economy.
Government has put an enabling legislative environment in place to incentivise businesses to participate in youth employment creation. For example, both large and small qualifying enterprises can improve their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment status by participating in YES. In addition, the Employment Tax Incentive reduces the costs to companies of hiring young people.
We have always said that the unemployment crisis can only be overcome if all social partners come on board. As the main source of job creation and retention in most countries around the world, including our own, the private sector’s involvement is critical. 
As government we will continue to play our part by putting in place regulatory and legislative tools to encourage business to hire more young South Africans.
Having reached this important milestone, we congratulate YES and its partners for offering a chance at a better life to 100,000 young people. We can expect to see these numbers increase in the months and years ahead. I call on more businesses to become part of this life-changing programme and to contribute to the recovery and reconstruction of our economy and society.
With best regards,