New B-BBEE incentive drives SA youth employment

New B-BBEE incentive drives SA youth employment

New dti B-BBEE codes are driving business to create jobs for young people in automotive, banking, healthcare and other sectors across SA. Nearly 400 companies are already taking advantage of the new benefit aimed at prioritising youth employment on the national agenda.

The business-driven non-profit Youth Employment Service (YES) is registering companies to take advantage of the new benefits, and next week (18 March) starts a roadshow with the SA National Accreditation System (SANAS) to empower B-BBEE verification agencies to deploy the new codes.

“This will help achieve the scale needed to address current and unacceptably high levels, of youth unemployment in SA,” said YES CEO Tashmia Ismail-Saville at an industry event at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) this morning.

Five companies in the initiative have already improved their B-BBEE rating by up to two levels, and an average of 673 jobs have been created per week in the four months from November 2018. YES is the only entity approved by the dti to register companies for B-BBEE benefits. Despite a March 2018 launch by President Ramaphosa, the YES initiative officially opened its registration portal four months ago.

In that time, Volkswagen Group South Africa created work opportunities for 560 unemployed youth through YES. Investec, MTN are also among the 378 companies that have registered for youth placements.

YES work experience is aimed at unemployed black South Africans aged 18 to 35. The initiative was designed to offer youth who remain locked out of other economic opportunities a pathway into economic participation. YES improves their employability with a one year work experience, as being unemployed, in itself, is barrier to employment.  

“We give unemployed young people an entry point into a market that often demands experience as a prerequisite for a job,” said Ismail-Saville. “We create that work experience opportunity in a country with six-million unemployed young people.”  

Five South African companies have already increased their B-BBEE scorecard by one level, and four more are in the process of verification. Leniency in year one of participation means that companies are able to verify before the full year of the employment contract is completed.

The minimum passport into the working world is a matric qualification, a structural exclusion for more than 56% of youth who seek work. The YES initiative is one of the few opportunities open to these young South Africans, a point reiterated by SANAS B-BBEE accreditation manager Mokgadi Remeetse. Remeetse further explained why there was such a collaborative and innovative relationship between Government, business and labour on this particular youth employment programme.

Employing youth in local economies such as townships sees large companies able to invest in youth jobs outside their costly infrastructure. This is done through an innovative implementation partner model that not only improves the national employment rate, but also stimulates growth in communities outside major cities where opportunity is currently concentrated.

“Some research points to a 5% drop in unemployment in lower income communities outside major metros translating into 1% GDP growth due to the amplification effect of that wage spend in those local communities,” said Ismail-Saville, quoting recent employment research from WITS University.