Written by YES for the SDG Bulletin South Africa (June 2018)


Six million young people out of work is a crisis for South Africa; our future workforce is not being educated, trained or employed. Compounding this, the longer people are out of work, the harder it is for them to re-enter the workforce. Worse still, 56% of the million young people entering the job market each year don’t have a matric, giving them little hope of employment and leaving them vulnerable to a loss of dignity and succumbing to social ills. The Youth Employment Service (YES) provides a solution.

YES is a business-led initiative supported by Government and Labour to significantly impact youth unemployment. It was launched in March by President Cyril Ramaphosa to stimulate the demand of job creation through company investment and by leveraging government’s existing recognitions such as the Employment Tax Incentive and B-BBEE recognition for broad-based transformation. This is achieved through the placement of black unemployed youth into new, twelve-month, work experiences, training opportunities and through the development of black- owned Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) which are coupled to employment impact. The initiative encourages companies to take as many young people as possible into their employ, giving them a chance to prove their abilities by taking on roles that prepare them for a future as the next generation of productive adults. The initiative is open to both large companies and SMMEs, allowing the larger company to qualify for B-BBEE recognition, while building SMME capacity and competitiveness.

YES is one of the first social compacts between government, business and labour created to give one million youth one million opportunities to succeed, while securing South Africa’s economic prosperity. Over the next three years, YES – led and supported by the private sector – will incentivise businesses to employ young people, giving them a chance at a life-changing first work experience. With a unique collaboration between government, labour, civil society and the youth, this represents a benchmark in fresh, bold responses to South Africa’s unemployment crisis.

YES is applying fresh thinking to create new work opportunities; giving youth a chance to establish a future, becoming self-directed and restoring their dignity.