In his recent state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa called the 50 per cent unemployment rate among young South Africans a “national crisis”, which requires urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions.
This is a sentiment echoed by Penreach, an organisation always at the forefront of skills development, training and community upliftment. When approached by WILDTRUST, national partner of Nedbank in an initiative called YES (Youth Employment Service) to become provincial implementing partners, Penreach jumped at the opportunity.
Aimed at giving young people an opportunity to gain work experience, YES is a collaboration between government, labour and the private sector. It is aimed at unemployed black South Africans aged 18 to 35 and gives them an entry point into a market which often demands experience as a prerequisite for a job.
Under the programme, businesses create one-year paid positions, and commit to provide a quality work experience to candidates, with a monthly stipend. Companies unable to provide direct employment, can still invest in youth jobs outside their own infrastructure through an innovative Implementation Partner model.
This year, in collaboration with WILDTRUST and Nedbank, Penreach recruited and trained 100 candidates, allocating them into different Early Childhood Development Centres across Ehlanzeni District. The training received included practical office skills, personal and social development, and hands-on basic training on early childhood development.
YES youth spend time at the centres to learn about early childhood development and to gain experience in managing a small business. It adds great value to the Penreach ECD programme, which has 130 centres where practitioner training and management development is taking place.
Austin Ranner, a YES youth, says being part of the programme has been a great experience and an eye opener, as it helped him realise that children are unique. “I also realised that early childhood development is important.” Currently studying to become a teacher through distance learning, he says that the experience is helping him in his career path and has inspired him to become passionate about what he does.
The feedback from ECD Centre managers on the recruits have been positive as having YES employees helping out as office administrators frees up time. “We spend less time on admin and more time in the field. It makes our jobs easier and more manageable. We also appreciate that they are being trained in ECD-related topics so they understand how to work with children,” one manager commented. “It is also good to see our youth growing in terms of work experience.”