The transport industry is certainly playing its part in the skills development of our youth as exemplified by both the operational and supplier sides of the industry coming to the fore to offer youngsters hands-on work experience through the Youth Employment Service (YES) Programme, a joint initiative by the private sector and government.
Established in 2018, the YES Programme aims to contribute to the promotion and development of unemployed youth by providing a quality 12-month work experience opportunity.
By gaining additional skills and workplace experience, the youth will be given a “hand-up” as opposed to a “hand-out”, meaning that they will be equipped with work-related skills instead of just being given financial aid. This will give them the chance to change the course of their lives. The project could create sustainable ecosystems that become economic seeding points in under-serviced communities, driving local income and jobs, long after the initial investment has been made.
On the transport operational side, the Rhenus Group, which last year acquired World Net Logistics – now known as Rhenus Logistics South Africa – selected 15 learners from surrounding communities in six cities across the country: Johannesburg, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, George, and Cape Town.
Successful candidates have received a fixed-term employment contract and will participate in a Rhenus induction and thereafter follow a quality, structured workplace experience development plan. This includes workplace readiness, on-the-job training, mentoring, as well as regular assessments to monitor and track their progress.
Once the candidates have completed their workplace experience successfully, they will be issued with a YES accredited CV and reference letter, which will afford them a better chance of unlocking employment and the possibility of pursuing their career aspirations.
Over the years, Rhenus Logistics South Africa has actively embraced skills development. In 2019 and 2020, 33 young people concluded learnerships. The company aims to implement the YES initiative on an annual basis, to continue contributing to skills development and reducing youth unemployment that has exceeded 50% in South Africa.
Commenting on their decision to participate in YES, Rhenus Logistics South Africa’s managing director, Dirk Goedhart says: “We believe the YES Programme will support youth in their development and tremendously improve their employability. Through this, we hope to play some small role in addressing some of the major social challenges facing South Africa including unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“We are confident that the recipients of YES will continue to excel both academically and professionally, gaining the much-needed skills and workplace exposure to develop into true, well-rounded logistics professionals, closing the skills gap and mapping a successful career,“ says Goedhart.
Isuzu take on second group
Crossing to the supplier side of the industry, Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSA) has taken on its second group of Youth Employment Service (YES) candidates and is this year placing 42 candidates in various departments across the company and its subsidiaries.
Wayne Osborne, IMSA’s senior manager of Training and Organisational Development, says the company is fully committed to the growth and development of young South Africans. He adds that despite challenging conditions and COVID-19 restrictions, last year’s group performed very well.
“About 10% of last year’s candidates were successful in their respective external job applications while Isuzu will retain about 21% of them, primarily in our production operations.
“This year we have once again recruited talented individuals, several of them with a tertiary qualification but with no work experience. And again, we partnered with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in terms of recruitment and job readiness training. We also involved ENGELI Enterprise Development in the skilling of the candidates prior to them starting at the company. We believe this programme provides an opportunity to gain skills, learn workplace discipline and to grow and develop on a personal level,” said Osborne.
Hats off to these two companies for playing such a critical role in not only educating the youth but also in giving them hope where, for many, there is no hope. According to Stats SA, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa stood at 55.75 percent in 2020. The youth aged between 15 and 24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market.