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South Africa
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 02:16
Youthful initiative

It’s time for businesses to become innovative in redesigning entry-level jobs in order to open up more work opportunities for youth. This is according to Brent Wyborn, Executive Head: Group Services of Hollard Insurance Group. Hollard is a founding partner of Harambee, a private-sector initiative that provides a sustainable way to employ into, and retain first time entrants in, the world of work.
South Africa’s unemployment rate is sitting at its highest in 12 years (26.4% in the first quarter of 2015), according to Statistics South Africa. Our youth unemployment rate is ranked 3rd highest globally, according to the World Economic Forum, with two out of three South Africans between the ages of 18 and 28 being out of work.
Even though there are entry-level jobs available, thousands of learners who matriculate and graduate each year are not employed because they lack the ability, behaviours and attitude needed to perform in the workplace. This is a problem for businesses too because they cannot find the entry-level staff they require.
“What if more businesses did it differently?” asks Wyborn, who urges businesses to consider hiring entry-level staff through programmes such as Harambee’s Work for Work Youth Employment Accelerator. This way, businesses assist in developing work-ready, motivated and valuable employees who are trained and mentored to succeed – a win-win for business and society.
Harambee’s 90-day bridging programme prepares candidates for the workplace and ensures that all the programme graduates have the necessary numeracy and literacy skills, occupational interests and confidence to contribute to their employer from day one. The companies that participate in the programme agree to employ the candidate for at least one year, providing them with, at the very least, 12 months’ work experience and a record of accomplishment at a credible employer. This is significant considering research showing that young South Africans who can keep their jobs for a year have a very high chance of staying employed over their lifetime.
“The model is simple and it works,” says Wyborn. This is evident when you consider that Harambee has grown from being a human capital exchange forum between Hollard and its sister companies in 2011 to now serving over 100 corporate employers in various industry sectors. This has allowed Harambee to successfully create jobs for well over 10 000 people to date – a target it now hopes to achieve on an annual basis going forward, while bringing 500 000 young people closer to the labour market by 2020. The Programme also received a grant from the Government’s Jobs Fund – an indication that the public sector supports the programme.
“If more businesses recognised the need for programmes such as Harambee and invested in the youth of South Africa by supporting these, we can improve the prospects for the country’s distressing unemployment statistics,” says Wyborn.
“It is a business priority to find sustainable solutions to youth employment,” says Wyborn. “Business cannot continue to treat this as the concern of the government alone. Neither party can solve this problem in isolation — partnership is essential given the scale of the issue. If we wish to have a country in which to do business, we need to vigorously tackle the problem of youth unemployment on a united basis.”
For more information about getting involved in Harambee’s Youth Employment Accelerator programme and the benefits of employing through it, visit www.harambee.co.za.

About Harambee

Harambee is an employment accelerator initiated in 2011 by Yellowwoods, the investment company representing Hollard’s main shareholders.
It works with employers who commit to placing first-time employees in entry-level skilled roles. Harambee sources human resources from a previously unexplored talent pool, finding disadvantaged youths with the attributes for success who are struggling to access sustained employment due to gaps in skills and social development and provides them with functional and emotional skills and subsequent coaching — all needed for long-term career success. Harambee’s vision is to do this on a scale that will make a serious dent in the problem, and it is gaining momentum.
This makes business sense because candidates employed through this vehicle are equipped with vital business skills and with a dedicated support system, and are sourced at a lower cost than through typical channels.
Crucially, such well-prepared candidates are likely to experience a far lower rate of turnover than typically experienced in entry-level employment, and initial results bear this out. Far from being a CSI [Corporate Social Investment] endeavour, this is a business initiative that has financial and social benefits.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.10 1st October, 2015
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