Thanks to a collaboration between the MiDO Foundation and Entersekt, five of the 18 youth to participate in the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme through the foundation have stepped into jobs immediately. Ten of the 18 youth are currently still completing the YES programme at the MiDO Foundation.

The YES programme was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 to address the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa. The programme offers unemployed youth a 12-month work placement, which equips them with a toolkit of skills that may assist them in future employment opportunities, as well as becoming role models in their communities. According
to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa, the unemployment rate for youth
aged 15-34 years is 46.3%. Much of this increase is due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and the rest of the world. However, since 2018, more than 1 571 corporations have signed up for the YES programme with more than 58 760 work experiences created for black youth between the ages of 18 and 35 with no government funding.

The MiDO Foundation is the philanthropic arm of MiDO Technologies, a business that provides innovative and tailored digital solutions to corporations, small and medium enterprises, and schools. Since 2017, the MiDO Technologies team have filtered their expertise and knowledge in information and communication technology (ICT) into the foundation’s Digital Citizenship Programme. The programme focuses on empowering unemployed youth to take control of their future by equipping them with digital skills and soft skills focused on digital communication, access, literacy, etiquette, and rights and responsibilities. The Digital Citizenship Programme provides youth, especially unskilled youth, from lower-income communities with opportunities to apply for internships to develop technical skills required in the ICT sector through a mentorship and industry-based 12-month paid internship each year. In 2020, the foundation teamed with Entersekt, a global fintech company, through the YES programme to extend the impact of its programme.

The MiDO Foundation currently has seven Digital Hubs at various schools across the Western Cape. The hubs are used to develop the digital and IT skills of learners under the supervision of a Digital Hub Coordinator. Entersekt and MiDO have been working together since 2017 when Entersekt first invested in a number of corporate social investment initiatives that would benefit youth and learners from disadvantaged backgrounds in the greater Jamestown area in Stellenbosch and beyond.  These joint initiatives included establishing a digital hub at Stellenzicht Secondary School in Jamestown and equipping the hub with digital devices, furniture and a coffee machine. The school’s Digital Hub Coordinator’s monthly salary is also sponsored by Entersekt.

“Our business was founded on the idea of providing innovative digital solutions to various organisations so that South African society was ready for the fourth industrial revolution when it arrived. We all believed that we were a long way off from entering the fourth industrial revolution, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated that process and we now find ourselves in the midst of that revolution. Digital skills are no longer a nice-to-have, it is essential for learners, students and workers to succeed at school, at university or in the workplace. Without it, many citizens will be left behind and will not easily find employment in future,” says Dale Simons, Founder and Managing Director of MiDO Technologies.

“Additionally, youth from disadvantaged communities often do not acquire digital skills for a number of reasons. This ranges from not having access to electronic devices and WIFI, the high cost of data in South Africa, poor quality internet connection in some areas, a lack of digital skills, and no opportunities to acquire digital skills either.”

“By getting involved in the YES programme and joining hands with Entersekt, we saw an opportunity to speed up the process of getting our youth ready for this new world. And we are so thankful we did, because we are now seeing the tangible and immediate impact that collaboration has made. Five of the 18 youth who completed the YES programme found jobs, which proves that the digital skills that our YES youth have acquired have already made them more employable,” adds Simons.

Entersekt also facilitated orientation programmes for the youth to reinforce the importance of a good work ethic, says Arno Kemp, Senior HR Business Partner responsible for transformation and growth at Entersekt.

“We want to ensure that the youth’s introduction to the world of work is also a journey of support.”

“Working with MIDO helps us to make a difference in South African communities but also in the global workforce. We’ve been privileged to see many youth grow into confident men and women who are assured of the value they add to the economy. These youth are now equipped with key skills which can be used across the world,” says Kemp.

Throughout the 12 months, the youths’ monthly salary was paid by Entersekt, while the foundation  was responsible for ensuring that they acquire various digital skills and are able to apply those skills effectively. The 18 YES youth were placed at the Foundation’s Digital Hubs and other locations.

“We know that SMEs are crucial drivers of job creation, and through the B-BBEE level up benefit, they can become more competitive and in turn create more jobs as they grow. This first salary for a youth has far-reaching socio-economic impacts. About 88.4% of YES Youth come from social grant recipient households and 90.7% have dependants, so the monthly salary benefits more than just the individual youth, it permeates through families and even communities,” says Leanne Emery, Acting Co-CEO at YES.

A strong collaboration between the YES programme, corporate companies and small businesses have the ability to make a significant impact on youth unemployment statistics in South Africa.

“Our partnerships with business, both big and small, are not only essential to the success of the YES programme, but to the broader fight against youth unemployment, serving to co-create a more inclusive economy. These entities, through the YES platform, have injected R3.3 billion back into the economy directly through the payment of youth salaries and they do this without government assistance,” adds Emery.

YES programme graduate Chanay Jaftha started working as a teacher at Dig It Junior creche in Jamestown recently. Jaftha obtained a National Diploma in Educare from Boland College and was unemployed when she decided to apply for the YES programme.

“The YES programme allowed me to work in the field I had studied in and it was a great opportunity to also start my career,” says Jaftha.

She says she has not only learnt digital skills but other soft skills too.

“I’ve learnt to control my feelings better, especially when things are not going as planned. You just have to find a way to see pass the obstacle.”

Another YES programme graduate, Athene-Leigh Klink now works as a Hub Coordinator at Rusthof High, where she is responsible for managing the hub and various programmes.

“I signed up for the YES programme because it was a great opportunity and I was at home because I was taking a gap year. I was just sitting at home doing nothing,” she says.

“The programme actually helped me very much with my future career choice. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become a teacher, but in the past few months, I realised it’s actually what I want to do because it’s not just about coming to work and teaching, it’s also about getting to know the learners and how each of them has a different style of doing their work. Some of them don’t have it easy, and most of them need the motivation to keep going.”

Adds Klink: “I never thought I would be able to stand in front of a class and speak to learners or communicate with a teacher the way I do now. Doing this programme helped me to become more confident and increased my passion for teaching.”

PHOTO 1: A collaboration between the MiDO Foundation and Entersekt, has led to five of the 18 youth to participate in the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme securing jobs. Amongst them are Chanay Jaftha (left), and Tamryn Samuels, who work at Dig It creche as a teacher and teaching assistant respectively. (Refiloe Raphasha)

PHOTO 2: Tamryn Samuels (left), and Chanay Jaftha, who work at Dig It creche as a teaching assistant and a teacher are busy helping learners in class. (Refiloe Raphasha)