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By Lucinda Alfonica, Regional Legal Manager at Workforce Staffing

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent call to re-evaluate work experience requirements in South Africa’s job market can add complexity for several businesses as they grapple with uncertainty as to how to realistically achieve this goal. While addressing unemployment is essential, and government is offering significant incentive to help address youth unemployment, employing the right staff remains a priority, especially in a challenging economic climate. Preparing candidates lacking experience for the job market, effectively bridging this gap and smoothens the transition.

A shifting job market

While we have seen a slight decrease in the total unemployment rate, South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is still sitting at a staggering 43.4%, according to recent data from Statistics SA. Government recognises that there are still many barriers for youth to enter the job markets, especially after graduating – for example, even where no prior work experience is required for graduate or internship positions, some jobs require the candidate to have their own vehicle, such as sales or candidate attorney positions. It is difficult for most youth to meet these requirements.

Government is taking steps to address this, incentivising the private sector through Employment Tax Incentives (ETI) and the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme. However, it is also imperative for government to work with the educations ministers to identify and incentivise the skills required in the job market, which will accelerate graduate employment. The curriculum of learners and students must include skills required in the future, including digital and computer skills, learning about similar emerging artificial intelligence to align skills with those required in the job market.

Collective effort is needed

Government offers various incentives for employing youth, which will benefit businesses and make it more attractive to hire youth. However, given South Africa’s employment landscape, where small to medium enterprises (SMEs) form many businesses, it is also important to include these businesses. Through government partnering with SMEs to subsidise internships or training courses, as most small businesses might not have the budget to hold comprehensive graduate programmes, these initiatives can accelerate youth employment opportunities.

It is also imperative for government and the private sector to collaborate on public works programmes in applicable industries, and to source ways to create more graduate programmes for youth. By facilitating these graduate programmes, youth gain experience in industries where experience is non-negotiable.

The role of TES

In industries where previous job experience is not a pre-requisite, like manufacturing and retail, a Temporary Employment Service (TES) can provide youth with multiple job opportunities that expose them to the life and emotional skills they need to succeed. This sets the youth up with work experience that enables them to apply for more senior or specialised roles that require experience, even if the experience is not specific to the job they might be applying for.

Where experience is required, a TES can partner with the business to implement short training initiatives to ensure that the employed youth can do the job and will remain in and succeed in the role they have been hired for. TES aims to provide equal job opportunities for all youth, irrespective of their socio-economic background, giving them equal opportunity to enter the job market and valuable work experience by matching jobs with candidates and candidates with jobs.

Having a TES partner in your corner

For businesses, a TES partner can be invaluable, supplying candidates at short notice thanks to their large databases and experience across various industries and sectors. Organisations can therefore focus on their core business whilst the TES takes care of the labour requirements in the supply of staff. Once the business has reached it strategic goals and production levels, these candidates can be assigned to clients in other industries, which not only ensures continuity of employment for the candidates, but business continuity and efficiency for organisations.



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