“I was so lost before getting this job. I didn’t know what to do and where to go. As soon as I heard about this amazing opportunity, it helped me realise how valuable I am.”
That’s the impact that having a job has had on Richard Modiba (21), a carpenter from Diepsloot, who was part of a work opportunity programme run by Telesure Investment Holdings (TIH) and the Youth Employment Service (YES).
TIH, the holding company for household names such as Auto & General, Budget Insurance, Dialdirect and 1st for Women, has created more than 800 work opportunities since partnering with YES 18 months ago – but it says life-changing stories like Modiba’s show that much more needs to be done to tackle South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis.
TIH says the YES model of giving young people 12-month work experiences ‘breaks the vicious cycle of unemployment’ in which unemployed youth can’t get a job without experience, but are unable to get the jobs they need to provide the necessary experience.
Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, the CEO of YES, said creating youth jobs was critical to South Africa’s ability to reset its economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With Covid’s impact on unemployment, the work of companies like TIH matters now more than ever. By exponentially increasing their job placement ability, companies like TIH will not only drive their own growth, but help reignite the entire economy. This will be key in the country’s ability to rebound from the economic effects of the pandemic,” said Dr Ismail-Saville.
YES, a business-driven initiative with government and labour that builds economic pathways for black youth to reduce unemployment, has created nearly 40,000 new work experiences in the past 19 months in conjunction with more than 1,100 private sector partners, including the likes of TIH, Nedbank, ABSA and VW.
TIH CEO Tom Creamer says the company’s YES candidates have been exposed to specialist skills and experience spanning short-term insurance, life insurance, IT, human resources, marketing and even automotive repair and towing.
“With more young people entering the workforce every year, the economy needs to create far more jobs than it currently does,” said Creamer. “Now more than ever, business needs to look at things differently and take action to support empowerment through collaboration, effort and creativity to really build a future that works.”
Dr Ismail-Saville said one of the biggest barriers to getting a job for South Africa’s estimated 8.5 million unemployed youth was getting the critical experience that prepared them to be successful in the world of work – but that while our youth may be unemployed, they are not unemployable.
“The social impact of employing young people is immense. They all talk so powerfully about what it means to be able to support their families, but more than that, they are uplifting entire township economies with their incomes,” said Dr Ismail-Saville.
TIH says one of the challenges that businesses and corporations face is finding new young employees that fit criteria for employment. To help meet the need for additional training, the company established a Motor Assessing and Customer Care Academy in 2014.
Of the hundreds of people trained at this academy, more than 80% have been employed at TIH and given access to job opportunities in the insurance industry.
“That first job for youth is the trigger to an economic cascade of events and is the only way to address inequality quickly. We cannot leave another generation behind,” said Dr Ismail-Saville.