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Summit’s Youth Development Programmes: Unlocking Potential with YouthLink

In a landscape where youth unemployment exceeds 60%, Summit has been steadfast in its mission – enabling gainful employment for the youth. Over the years, our Skills Development Programme for Anglo American Zimele within their mining communities has proved itself as an effective beacon of hope. 

Two of our largest sectors contributing to South Africa’s GDP are hospitality and retail, where we have primarily focused our training efforts. However, we quickly recognised a broader need – not only for skills training in these communities, but also for industry development.

What is YouthLink?

YouthLink is our comprehensive response to the pressing employment challenges within the Anglo American mining communities. Our role in this project starts with recruitment and ends with job placement. We identify unemployed youth, provide them with high-demand skills training, find hosts for their practical learning, and finally, place these qualified learners into jobs. YouthLink acts as a bridge, linking these eager young minds to the opportunities that match their newly acquired skills.

What Motivated Summit to Develop YouthLink?

In our journey, working closely with these mining communities, we identified a critical gap – the connection between skills development and successful placement of learners into employment. Traditional recruitment services for the hospitality and retail sectors were virtually non-existent. Many businesses often relied on referrals from family members or friends, hiring staff with no prior experience or knowledge of the job role. Our mission with YouthLink is to equip the youth with practical skills and then match them with their ideal employer.

Small businesses, still reeling from the financial impacts of the 3-year-long pandemic, find it challenging to afford recruitment services. Therefore, our recruitment services to the community’s small businesses – which are at no cost to them – benefit both learners and placement partners.

To improve efficiency, we decided to automate the placement process for candidates and placement partners. Our online systems expedite placements, simultaneously drawing attention to vacancies and employment opportunities. Another challenge we’ve overcome is high-turnover rates for entry-level positions in retail and hospitality. Businesses often find it challenging to train new staff members in the jobs’ necessary skills, while our placement partners have access to a pool of readily trained candidates. It’s a win-win-win situation, benefiting learners, placement partners, and Summit in achieving our goals.

How Does YouthLink Prepare Learners for the Job Market Through Work-Integrated Learning Programmes?

We ensure that our learners receive practical experience before entering the job market through our unique work-readiness programme integrated into our modules. It provides them with a deep understanding of the work ahead. We maintain a query line for ongoing support and coaching during their work-integrated learning phase and even after they have completed their programme.

We also maintain close communication with placement partners to guide them on best practices for taking care of our learners.

How Do We Measure the Effectiveness of Placement Programmes?

We are confident that the learners reaching the end of their programmes are competent and committed to their careers. We facilitate the compilation of each learner’s portfolio that documents their theory and practical test results. In addition to this, we actively seek feedback from placement partners to measure our programmes’ effectiveness accurately. We’ve consistently received overwhelmingly positive feedback on our learners’ abilities to apply theory into practice.

Success Stories

One of our first placements was a young man from Pologne, who completed Summit’s hospitality skills programme. He was referred to a woman who struggled to find staff post-Covid. She had pivoted to a pizza business to adapt to the changing scenario. The young man secured the job, lived on the property for two years – helping sustain her business – and eventually moved up in his career. This reflects the positive impact our training and recruitment programmes have on both unemployed youth and small businesses in these communities.

Another success story is of a young lady from Postmasburg who, after studying our Chef course, worked her way up to becoming head-chef at the largest accommodation property in town. She is now frequently head-hunted by other businesses in town.

What Are Our Future Plans for YouthLink?

Our goal is to expand YouthLink beyond the hospitality and retail industries and beyond our current areas of operation. We have grown tremendously in recent years, more than tripling our workforce. Our plan is to seek further national and international opportunities to impact the unemployed youth of South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. This would mean reaching youth across our region, as well as businesses seeking recruitment assistance.

Through YouthLink, Summit has managed to break down barriers to employment, equipping South Africa’s youth with invaluable skills, and placing them in roles that bring out their potential. These narratives of success and transformation are just the beginning. As we look to the future, we are excited about the expansion of our programme and the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of more individuals across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient workforce and pave the way for a prosperous future.

Discover opportunities to empower our youth and shape their future. Contact us today for more information. 

About the Author

Lee Brits, Senior Placement Manager.

Lee is an enthusiastic Senior Placement Manager at Summit. He has a wealth of experience in management, operations, education/training, and sales. He plays an integral role in fostering organisational growth through this interactive approach. Lee finds great excitement in the creative process of devising groundbreaking and disruptive initiatives that enable business to maintain a competitive edge. Outside of work, he indulges in his love for travel and outdoor activities, consistently seeking opportunities to nurture personal growth and develop professional skills.