June is supposed to be a time when we honour and commemorate the Sowetan teenagers and children of 1976 who found the courage to stand up to a militant apartheid government for their rights to an equal, accessible, and excellent education. However, the current strained economic environment is making it harder for young people to survive, let alone thrive as they face unprecedented levels of youth unemployment.

Since Q1 of 2020, our expanded youth unemployment rate has gone up by 7% (or by at least 1.5 million young people aged 15-34). Today, two in three youth are unemployed (7.5 million young people).

This equates 7.5 million young, capable, dynamic people who are not contributing to the economy or paying taxes. That’s 7.5 million young people who could capacitate the medtech and healthcare sectors.

Our country’s most important [forgotten] resource

Youth have been called the country’s most important resource but have been left untapped despite being primed and ready to be a productive member of society.

The National Youth Policy (2015-2020) noted that “Young people feel excluded, largely due to high unemployment rates and their inability to participate economically.”[1] The same document also acknowledges youth as “a major human resource for development, often acting as key agents for social change, economic expansion and innovation. Their imagination, ideals, energy and vision are essential for the continuous development of society”.[2]

The only way of saving our economy and industry is to take ownership of the potential to benefit not only the youth but that also enables not only broad-based change the private sector.

That’s where YES, and you, come in.

YES Youth Day

Let’s face it. If you lead the youth, you lead the market. Youth offer critical insights into what our future and what is needed to shape healthcare.

YES, the largest jobs impact programme of its kind in the country, is a completely private sector-funded and led initiative that collaborates with government and labour to enable 12-month quality work experiences (QWEs) for unemployed youth. In return for sponsoring the placement of youth (either inside your own business or externally through the YES turnkey solution), your business gains up to two levels up on your B-BBEE scorecard, and/or can integrate your YES programme with your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) strategies.

To date, YES and its partners have enabled over 82,000 QWEs for unemployed youth, injecting R4.6 billion into the economy through YES Youth salaries alone in just over three years – despite the pandemic and worsening unemployment rates.

Join the movement

YES Youth continue to show South Africa that they are not lazy; they are primed and they are ready to become productive members of our society, despite being unemployed for months, and even years before an opportunity arises. We call on SAMED members to join the 32 SAMED members who have already contributed 1,434 youth employment opportunities.  Click here to calculate your target

In celebration of Youth Month, YES has put together a collection of videos of YES Youth telling their stories. We know that many of our YES Youth will go onto be future leaders, trendsetters, and heroes of our country, and that is all thanks to our hero partner who continue to say YES. Click here to see more from our YES Youth Stories page.

[1] The Presidency, 2015, p. 15.

[2] The Presidency, 2015, p. 2.