WorkFit says YES to Youth Employment Solutions

WorkFit says YES to Youth Employment Solutions

The Workfit Team visited YES4Youth in April and chatted to CEO Dr. Tashmia Ismail-Saville about synergies between the two initiatives which seek to positively impact youth unemployment.

YES is happening

 YES is gaining significant traction. They have 87 000 youth registered on their system. In the first four months of 2019 they have assessed, selected and placed 16 200 interns. On the one hand this is hardly a drop in the ocean of unemployed youth, but on the other hand  it is evidence of a plan coming together. As another YES staffer told us this represents “moving a minimum of R56 million per month into the pockets of the youth”.

Of course, YES relies on the pull factor built into the revised B-BBEE regulations. It enables companies to make radical shifts in their B-BBEE level by employing youth. But on another level the YES process benefits both the youth and the organisations by introducing each other and de-risking the process.

YES focuses on good assessment and selection of candidates. The assessment is based on behaviours and suitability to the type of work, not on academic results. This is also a critical step in the WorkFit Toolkit (see page 19). YES also provides online work readiness training to those registered on their system. Once youth are placed they receive a cellphone and can access additional learning resources. The full journey is described here.

A requirement for the B-BBEE regulations is that employers must provide a “quality work experience” and YES has developed a guideline for this. The guideline and other documents related to B-BBEE can be downloaded here.

A part of the YES strategy is to build the capabilities of the communities where unemployed youth live. They achieve this by setting up community hubs. While discussing this we introduced SAYPro to the YES staffers. SAYPro is an impressive community based organisation situated in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.

So how do WorkFit and YES complement each other’s visions?

On the face of it the YES model doesn’t really require providers to prepare learners for the work experience. They are using online learning to reach the youth. But as we have discovered there are a number of providers getting involved in this role. They take on the process of making youth work ready to speed up their integration into the target employer.

We also discovered that, like the WorkFit campaign, YES is working closely with Khetha and Career Development services at the Department of Higher Education and Training. They are also supporting Ehlanzeni TVET College, where WorkFit attended the launch of the first Co-ordinating SETA -TVET Office on the 3 October 2018. WorkFit hopes to help YES build more TVET college partnerships, as there are over 1 million youth enrolled in this system, and improving the quality of employability they receive will impact the entire country.

In passing Tashmia referred us to an article in the Harvard Business Review, Why Feedback Rarely Does What It’s Meant To. This addresses another two critical elements of the WorkFit Toolkit: Workplace Learning and Coaching/Mentoring (see page 32).

The essence of this article is that critical feedback doesn’t change anything. Feedback needs to assist the novice to identify areas where they did well, then to try and replicate that. This sets them on the path to improvement. This is critical information for coaches, mentors and others involved in building the capabilities of the young people in work readiness and workplace learning processes.

This line of thinking isn’t new. It links back to approaches and practices such as Appreciative Inquiry, Kaizen (the Toyota Way and Lean Thinking) and W. Timothy Gallwey’s book “The Inner Game of Work.”


Image: Liz and Stephanie of the WorkFit team, representing at the YES launch in April 2018

Chris Vorwerk

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