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How Summit and YES are Tackling Youth Unemployment

South Africa faces significant socio-economic challenges, including a declining GDP and rising national debt, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these issues, youth unemployment stands out, with a staggering 56.8% unemployment rate for young people in the second quarter of 2022. This crisis threatens the future of an entire generation, potentially leading to a lifetime of unemployment, increased poverty, and a growing population excluded from economic participation.

In this article, we explore the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative, its impact over the past five years, its innovative approaches, and how Summit’s partnership with YES is making a meaningful difference in the lives of young South Africans.

At Summit, we recognise the urgency of addressing this issue. Our partnership with YES is a testament to our commitment to creating meaningful change by providing young South Africans with quality work experience (QWEs) opportunities.

What is The YES Initiative?

Founded just over three years ago, YES is a South African, business-driven not-for-profit organisation that collaborates with companies, labour, and the government to tackle youth unemployment. By offering 12-month QWEs through the private sector, YES aims to equip unemployed youth with the skills and experience they need to enter the workforce.

Since its inception, YES has partnered with 2,200 companies, creating over 100,000 work experiences. This initiative has injected ZAR 6 billion into communities and the economy, significantly impacting youth employment and economic inclusion.

The Power Of Virtual Learning 

YES has been at the forefront of integrating virtual learning into its programmes. By logging 23 million minutes of mobile digital learning time since its inception, YES ensures that young people are equipped with essential skills for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). This approach provides valuable educational content while enabling YES to stay connected with the youth, even during the South African lockdowns.

Summit plays a crucial role in this innovative approach. We collaborate closely with YES to develop and deliver digital learning content that is both engaging and relevant. Our expertise in creating bespoke training solutions ensures that the content is tailored to meet the needs of each individual, focusing on practical skills that can be directly applied in the workplace. By leveraging mobile technology, we make learning accessible to young people regardless of their geographical location, breaking down barriers to education and employment​​.

The Ripple Effect Of Employment

At Summit, we witness how employment has the opportunity to transform lives and communities daily. Giving young people jobs, opportunities, and incomes doesn’t just change their lives; it changes the lives of their families and beyond. According to YES, 88% of YES Youth come from grant-recipient households, and 91% have dependents. This means that the salaries earned by YES participants have immediate ripple effects, benefiting families and communities alike.

We support this ripple effect by working closely with YES to identify and develop job opportunities that match the skills and interests of young people. Our tailored training programmes ensure that participants are employable and ready to excel in their chosen careers. This comprehensive approach maximises the impact of the YES initiative, fostering sustainable economic growth and social upliftment​​.

Future-proofing career paths

While providing employment is vital, ensuring that young people are trained in relevant, 21st-century skills and technology is equally important. This future-proofing of career paths is essential to maintain the momentum of economic inclusion and to prepare the youth for the demands of a rapidly evolving job market.

Through our partnership with YES, Summit is dedicated to equipping young South Africans with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workforce. By focusing on both employment and education, we aim to create sustainable, long-term solutions to the youth unemployment crisis​​.

YES testimonials

  • Dineo’s journey: Dineo Phasha began her journey with Summit in June 2021 through the YES4YOUTH programme and quickly became the first participant to be made permanent. Starting as a Recruitment Administrator, her dedication led to promotions and roles in the Placement Department. Over three years, she earned two MVP awards and the Invictus Values Award in 2023. With Summit’s support, Dineo completed a Generic Management NQF Level 3 qualification and is now a Senior Placement Administrator.
  • Zimele’s journey: Zimele joined Summit through the YES programme and began his journey as a receptionist at the Cape Town campus. His dedication and hard work quickly earned him a promotion to facilitator. Now, Zimele delivers training at various client locations, exemplifying the potential that the YES initiative has to transform lives.

Be Part of the Solution

The urgency of addressing youth unemployment in South Africa cannot be overstated. If we fail to act now, we risk condemning an entire generation to a future of poverty and exclusion. At Summit, we are committed to making a difference through our partnership with YES. By providing quality work experiences, fostering innovation, and ensuring relevant skills training, we are working towards a brighter future for South Africa’s youth.

We invite other businesses to join us in this critical mission. Together, we can create opportunities, transform lives, and build a stronger, more inclusive economy. For more information about our YES partnership and how you can get involved, please contact us today.

Interviewee Anthea Kallis, Head of Business Continuity at Summit.