Nadine Farao, Stakeholder Relations Manager at the MiDO Foundation (far right), joins some of the YES graduates in celebrating their success.

The local non-governmental organisation, the MiDO Foundation, and Entersekt, a global fintech company based in Stellenbosch, have once again combined their efforts to help another 10 young, unemployed adults soar with the opportunity to complete a 12-month mentorship and information, communications and technology industry-based paid internship through the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme.

YES beneficiaries obtain digital skills and digital citizenship skills through the foundation’s Digital Citizenship Programme. Some of the soft skills they acquire through digital citizenship skills training include communication skills, access, digital literacy, etiquette, and rights and responsibilities.

One of those youth to complete the programme and obtain immediate employment is Kaylan Gideons who lives in The Ridge in Idas Valley, Stellenbosch, and started working as a receptionist at the law firm Smiths and Associates in Stellenbosch.

“I started studying Human Resources at CTU Stellenbosch two years ago and after completing the course, I started looking for work, but everywhere I applied, I was told that I did not have the necessary work experience to be considered for the job. I had only completed two weeks of practical training in human resources during my studies,” explains Gideons.

While looking for work, Gideons met Michelle Swartland, Senior Project Administrator at the MiDO Foundation, who encouraged her to apply for the upcoming YES programme. Gideons applied and was accepted into the programme. During the 12 months, she worked as a receptionist at Acu-Temp where she was responsible for taking calls, dealing with queries, issuing quotes and invoices, and ensuring that administrative systems were put in place at the small business.

“I was really excited about working at Acu-Temp and it was a huge learning opportunity for me. I got so much experience while working here and was able to put the knowledge I acquired while completing the YES programme to use, and for the first time use some of the skills I learnt through my course at CTU at Acu-Temp.”

“It helped me to also create a good filing system for the business.”

Acu-Temp specialises in providing temperature-controlled monitoring instruments from local and overseas suppliers and performs calibration, repairs, and support services in the cold chain industry.

According to Nadine Farao, Stakeholder Relations Manager at the MiDO Foundation, the foundation believes in not only empowering unemployed youth through the YES programme, but small businesses as well.

“Interventions should not only be focused on one aspect of a challenge, in this case youth unemployment, but rather, where possible, respond to various challenges in our society. This is a philosophy that we believe in, as strongly as we believe in forming partnerships with various organisations.”

To this end, the foundation has not only worked with Entersekt, but organisations like the Stellenbosch Network and the Ranyaka as well as the CoCreate Hub in Stellenbosch.

“We want to ensure that SMMEs in need of employees with digital skills and other soft skills needed for administrative and financial tasks can also benefit from the foundation and Entersekt’s collaboration, and the YES programme. We are therefore increasing employment while capacitating SMMEs that are considered the engines of our economy due to the sector’s potential to create jobs.”

Gideons explains that when she first started working at Acu-Temp, she “made lots of notes on how to improve some processes”, handled the company’s payroll, and accounts.

“It was hard work, because I had to manage it all, but I was able to cope because I would plan my tasks for the day each day,” said Gideons.

She also learnt a lot about good time management and organisation skills at Acu-Temp and the Director of the company, Garnet Christians, she said, allowed her to also participate in business management training offered at the CoCreate Hub in Stellenbosch, where the business’ office is based.

“This programme and the internship at Acu-Temp meant so much to me because there was a time in my life when I thought I would never get work. I had a diploma, but no work experience, so when I heard about the MiDO Foundation and this programme, I felt that there were people who would help me. I had a lot of hope, but it was the foundation that opened many doors for me.”

According to Gideons, the programme helped her to improve her confidence as a person, but also in the workplace. When she went for her interview at Smith and Associates, she felt a lot calmer and was well-prepared for the questions she was asked.

The interview panel was so impressed with Gideons, that when she finished her interview, they asked her how soon she could begin.

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.

“This is our third group of YES graduates to have been sponsored and mentored by Entersekt and trained by the MiDO Foundation since 2020. We are super excited that five of the third group of graduates are now in permanent employment,” said Farao.

Of the 10 graduates who have completed the YES programme since 2020, five have found permanent employment during and straight after they completed the programme.

The unemployment rate in South Africa is frighteningly high, with 46.5% of the youth between the ages of 15 to 34 without work. For many, a lack of digital skills further hinders their ability to compete with other job seekers for a limited number of jobs,” says Farao.

“The world we live in today require all of us to have digital skills. Just using our phone app to do our banking requires some digital literacy skills, and in the workplace, employers are not only looking for applicants with digital skills knowledge at more senior levels, but also at entry-level. Even a till operator needs to have digital skills to know how to void items or do exchanges.”

Adds Sheldon Bergstedt, Operations Manager at the foundation: “In the time of the 3rd industrial revolution, which is also referred to as the Digital Revolution, electronics and information technology came to play a big role in the workplace and society and led to the automation of production. As we find ourselves in the 4th industrial revolution, the use and application of digital skills and knowledge of digital citizenship are essential to ensuring that individuals can function in this new era and are not left behind. Our mission at the foundation is rooted in the upliftment of the youth and the rectification of previous injustices.”

“We believe that upskilling our unemployed youth is important not only to improve the employability of South Africans, but because we cannot afford the economic impact that a continued increase in youth unemployment will have on South Africa, the devastating impact of unemployment on an individual’s mental health and self-esteem, and worsening poverty, and crime,” says Farao.

Dario Minnaar, Customer Relationship Technician, at MiDO Technologies started off the YES 3 program in August 2021 where he worked as an IT Technical Support Intern at MiDO Foundation. Minnaar has obtained 2 National qualifications and 1 International qualification at CTU Training Solutions Stellenbosch.

“The 2 National Qualifications are IT Technical Support and IT Cloud Administrator MCSA and the International qualification is Comptia A+ 220-1001 and 1002,” says Minnaar.

“I can’t thank Entersekt and MiDO Foundation enough for the opportunity because I could get to learn at the Technological level. I had the opportunity to work in a technological environment and to be able to gain practical experience in the time of Covid.”

Minnaar’s skills were so impressive that he was appointed as a full-time Customer Relationship Technician at MiDO Technologies 3 months before his internship ended which created an opportunity for another eager individual, Shanice Theunissen to take his place and finish the remaining period of the YES programme.

“The programme was so helpful, and I am happy I get to remain at the school I teach at. I’ve learned many new skills in communication and planning. If it wasn’t for the program, I don’t know where I would be today”, says Amber Olivier, who completed the programme with Gideons and currently works as a teacher at Dig-It Junior in Jamestown.

“Working with babies between the ages of 6 and 18 months require much planning, communication and focus – all the skills that the YES programme offered,” said Olivier.

“I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of such an enriching experience, where young people get the opportunity to enhance their practical skills.”