Pioneering digital employment initiative YES (Youth Employment Service) aims to create one million work opportunities for disadvantaged young people in South Africa over the next 3 years. Supported by key technology grants from Microsoft, the project will ignite the potential of South Africa’s youth by providing hands-on learning opportunities at corporates, SMMEs and community hubs nationwide.
Established in 2016, YES Youth Employment Service is a ground-breaking public-private partnership focused on harnessing power of digital technology to combat youth unemployment in South Africa.
Supported by strategic Azure and Software grants from Microsoft, YES’s unique technology ecosystem comprises a central data store and distributed apps for youth, corporates and 3rd parties. The ecosystem running on cloud allows YES to manage all stakeholder journeys, skills matching and information transfer processes. YES also aims to leverage Microsoft’s contribution in equipping 100 skills-focused community hubs nationwide with the latest technologies to bridge the digital skills gap among youth.
“The problem we are tackling is huge,“ tells Puno Selesho, Project Coordinator and Communications Officer at YES. “Most of the young people we help have been without access to education or training in one way or another. To reach the kind of scale we’re aiming for – creating one million employment pathways over three years – we realized we needed to leverage the power of digital technology.”
Xenothan Hojem, Learning Technology Innovator at YES, explains: “For us, the decision to work with Azure was made at the outset – based both on personal experience with the platform, as well as the local support Microsoft offers. We’ve always found Microsoft’s support and turnaround times to be phenomenal. In addition, our stakeholders are distributed across the country, so hosting our Business Management System on the Cloud was the logical choice.”
Not only does YES focus on incentivizing local corporates and SMMEs to employ young people, but it believes in creating employment momentum for youth – through digital training, skills matching, CVs, and reference letters, thereby significantly increasing a candidate’s chances of permanent employment after completion of the program.
“We want to bring South Africa’s young people into the future,” Selesho explains. “Microsoft helps us achieve that – by bridging the gap for youth who may have been left behind educationally, and the future they deserve access to.”
“We plan to have 100 community hubs in townships across the country,” says Selesho. “The hubs will house multi-purpose training facilities and computer rooms, functioning as local economic nodes.” Microsoft will be instrumental in both equipping the hubs as well as providing consultations and training to empower users.
The ultimate goal: inspiration
“We want to be able to shift mindsets – of corporates, small business and young people themselves,’ emphasizes Selesho. ‘We want to help the youth break out of any limiting mindsets they may have.” Now, YES stands ready to connect, empower and inspire.
We want to bring South Africa’s young people into the future – Microsoft helps us achieve that.