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Unemployed youth given a helping hand

Lebogang Sothane says being part of the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative will take him far in his career.

Sothoane is among the 3 315 young people, who were recently inducted into Nedbank’s workforce through the YES initiative.

This brought an end to the 27-year-old’s four-year journey to find employment.

Completing her matric in 2011, Sothoane registered for a degree but was forced to drop out due to financial constraints.

President Cyril Ramaphosa with some of the young people who are working for Nedbank through the YES initiative. “In 2014, I stayed at home, dropped out and in 2015, I did my Logistics degree through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme,” she said.

Sothoane is among the inductees who will now work for Nedbank under the YES initiative that was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018. Sothoane, who shared the stage with the first citizen during a panel discussion together with two other YES inductees, did not hold back in telling the President the challenges they faced in getting a foot in the door of the workplace.

Among the challenges she highlighted were being denied access to entry level posts due to a lack of experience, as well as financial exclusion at tertiary institutions due to a lack of funds, and cases where one cannot graduate because their student fees are in arrears.

Nedbank Group Chief Executive Officer Mike Brown said the bank is taking on the youth as a way to make a dent in South Africa’s high unemployment figures.

“We want to go beyond business as usual and create meaningful job opportunities for our youth,“ said Brown at the ceremony held at the bank’s Sandton premises.

The President listened intently to the concerns raised by the youth during the panel discussion.

“I am troubled by this,” said the President, referring to the country’s unemployment figures and challenges faced by youth in obtaining employment.

In many ways, said the President, Nedbank and other companies which have taken on youth employees have gone beyond the call of duty.

“There are so many unemployed young people. I have interfaced with it at a close range,” President Ramaphosa said, adding that the prerequisite for experience for young employees has turned out to become a barrier.

To date, the YES initiative has managed to secure 17 000 work opportunities for unemployed youth.