According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa, youth aged 15-24 and 25-34 years, experience the highest unemployment rates – 63,2% and 41,2% respectively.

It’s statistics like these that drives the MiDO Foundation’s resolve to bring hope to unemployed youth by equipping them with digital skills to make them employable. Now they’ve partnered with the global fintech company, Entersekt, to make an impact on an even bigger scale through the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme.

“Our purpose at MiDO is to equip disadvantaged youth with essential digital skills required to find employment today while also helping them find their passion and purpose by creating spaces and opportunities for them to thrive. We create these spaces through the Digital Technology Hubs that we have built at schools across the Western Cape. Now, our collaboration with Entersekt creates opportunities for us to employ interns and place them in Hubs as assistant Hub Coordinators through the YES programme. This partnership will allow us to empower many young people who are facing difficulties in finding employment,” says Dale Simons, Founder and Managing Director of MiDO Technologies.

MiDO has been upskilling unemployed youth since 2017 and started the Digital Citizenship Programme in 2020. The programme provides youth from lower-income communities with opportunities to apply for internships todevelop technical skills required in the ICT sector through a mentorship and industry-based 12-month paid internship each year.

According to Arno Kemp, Senior HRBP: Transformation and Growth at Entersekt, it made sense for the global fintech company to expand its partnership with the MiDO Foundation by including the business in their participation in the YES programme.

“The YES programme is a 12-month quality work experience programme that equips unemployed youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with a toolkit to be a beacon of hope for their families, households and communities. At the end of their internship, they have a CV and reference letter which will give them a three times greater chance of an interview call-back,” says Kemp.

To date, 18 interns have been placed at MiDO’s hubs and other locations. Entersekt has also facilitated orientation programmes for the interns to reinforce the importance of a good work ethic and to ensure, says Kemp, “that the interns’ introduction to the world of work is also a journey of support”.

Government and corporate partnerships like the YES programme, says Simons, are essential in helping to combat youth unemployment and to the country’s long-term economic development.

“We share the same drive for creating value and making a difference in the lives of youth who do not have access to this sort of education or opportunities for employment in a country where overall unemployment has now breached 30%,” adds Kemp.

“We believe that MiDO has the leadership and infrastructure in place to enable a long-term partnership of mutual growth, where we can add measurable value to the community.”

Entersekt and MiDO have been working together since June 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 and beyond.

These joint initiatives included establishing a digital hub at Stellenzicht Secondary School and making available further funding for the implementation of digital literacy programmes in the hub. Learners are able to visit the hub to develop their digital and IT skills under the supervision of a Digital Hub Coordinator, whose monthly stipend is sponsored by Entersekt. The digital hub is fitted with wireless internet access and devices to give young people the best opportunity to have access to equipment and information.

MiDO’s involvement with the YES programme has already made an impact on some of the participating youth who were unable to find employment due to a lack of work experience.      Courtney Slade, a YES Programme intern at MiDO, previously struggled to find employment because she lacked work experience. “No one wants to hire someone without experience, so the internship gives me the opportunity to put something on my CV,” says Slade. “The programme also builds our confidence, our knowledge and gives us the skills we need to get a job after the internship.”

By developing the youth, MiDO has helped many young people find their sense of purpose.

Athene Klink, who resides in Strand, is another YES intern based at MiDO. Initially she wanted to study hospitality, but was unable to do so due to financial circumstances. While working at MiDO, she discovered a passion for education.

“I have always wanted to become a teacher but wasn’t comfortable speaking in front of others. This programme has given me more confidence. I would like to pursue a career in education after this.”

Simons hopes to see more businesses, in particular in Stellenbosch, get involved with the YES programme and partner with smaller businesses to provide the youth with work experience.

“Let’s give our youth, who have no or limited access to opportunities to improve their digital skills, a solid chance to gain those skills to enter employment and make a contribution to building the economy of our country. Let’s give them the best opportunity to create a prosperous future for themselves and their communities.”

Main photo: Here are some of our YES interns with Daniel Solomons (back, far left), Executive Director of MiDO Foundation, and Arno Kemp (back, far right), Senior HRBP: Transformation and Growth at Entersekt.