Youth jobless crisis should be top priority for govt in an election year – TES could help tackle challenge

TES can impart valuable work experience, foster skills development, and enhance the employability of the youth.

TES can impart valuable work experience, foster skills development, and enhance the employability of the youth.

Published Jun 15, 2024


By Quintus Sliep

High rates of youth unemployment are a persistent problem in South Africa, and one that needs to be addressed by the government as a matter of urgency.

Temporary Employment Services (TES) can provide a strategic intervention, acting as a vital channel to help the youth access job opportunities.

By offering temporary placements, TES can impart valuable work experience, foster skills development, and enhance the employability of the youth.

This readily complements initiatives like the Youth Employment Service (YES) Programme and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) by providing structured work experience and skills-development opportunities for young South Africans.

No single solution

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey from Q4 2023 highlights the severity of the issue, with South Africa’s youth unemployment rate at a staggering 59.4%.

The youth unemployment crisis has several negative consequences for young people, their families and the country, perpetuating cycles of poverty, leading to increased crime, and contributing to social unrest.

Reducing unemployment in South Africa, particularly when it comes to the youth is critical, but also one of the biggest challenges faced by the government.

Addressing the high-unemployment rate requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach, including economic reforms, skills development, and interventions to address specific challenges facing citizens such as youth and marginalised communities.

It is a complex and long-term issue that will require sustained efforts and collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society.

Part of the solution

The government has taken steps to address this crisis, including the introduction of NYDA and YES. NYDA is a government agency responsible for the promotion of youth development through skills-development programmes, entrepreneurship programmes, and job-placement programmes.

YES, is a programme that provides young people with 12-month work opportunities to gain work experience, develop skills, and improve their chances of finding permanent employment.

TES can effectively complement these initiatives and help to address several challenges faced by government.

TES providers occupy a unique position in the labour market, ideally positioned to engage with all relevant stakeholders to address the youth unemployment crisis, acting as a catalyst and conduit for change.

They can also help the youth to gain valuable work experience and develop skills that make them more employable, as TES providers can help with access to training programmes and upskilling opportunities.

This aligns with the government initiatives, and benefits employers at the same time. TES providers offer flexible workforce solutions that allow companies to scale their workforce-size and composition in response to demand, addressing immediate staffing needs, accessing specialist skills, and managing temporary workload fluctuations.

Collaboration is key

Working together is the only way that the government will be able to make significant strides in addressing South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis.

TES suppliers can help drive youth employment and skills development in South Africa by actively seeking to collaborate with educational institutions to provide young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

This could include providing access to training in high-demand skills or helping young people develop their soft skills, such as communication and teamwork.

Collaboration will build strong partnerships that allow for the sharing of resources, knowledge, and best practices, ultimately enhancing the impact and reach of youth-focused initiatives.

By strategically integrating TES with national objectives and existing programmes such as the YES Programme, South Africa can create a more inclusive workforce, drive sustainable economic growth, and empower its youth with meaningful employment opportunities.

Quintus Sliep is managing director of Worldwide Staffing.