Organisations operating in the South African economy that incorporate youth employment goals into their sustainability and transformation strategies will increasingly start to see the business benefits of taking this progress approach.
This is according to Mohamed Khan, Senior Manager of B-BBEE at Mazars, who points to the launch of the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March of this year, which aims to create 1 million new employment opportunities for unemployed youth. “This development brings with it a set of proposed changes to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) codes that businesses should take note of.”
He explains that, currently, the generic scorecard stipulates that companies have to allocate 6% of their total payroll to any skills development programme. “The new proposed amendment to the codes aims to change this so that 2.5% of a company’s payroll will go specifically towards training initiatives for people between the age of 18 and 35, and 3.5% can be spent on any other type of training.”
Khan believes that while B-BBEE scorecards have progressively been weighted in favour of ownership, this new focus on youth employment reflects that Government is increasingly viewing youth employment as a factor that can contribute to greater ownership numbers and meaningfully reduce unemployment.
“Participating in more youth training and employment programmes will start to make a positive difference for companies’ B-BBEE scorecards, as well as yield other benefits. To start, there are a number of tax benefits available to companies who align their programs with the YES initiative. It can also give businesses an opportunity to grow much needed skills within their organisations, by investing in candidates who are just entering the workforce.”
Bongiwe Mbunge, Partner at Mazars’ Advisory Division advises that companies partner with existing training programmes to increase their involvement in youth-focused initiatives. “Youth unemployment threatens the sustainability of our country at a macro level. This challenge cannot be left to the Government alone to solve. We, the private sector, have got to be agile and innovative enough to make an impact. Mazars has created its Youth Unemployment Initiative as a response to this need.”
She explains that the training programme puts unemployed youth with matric qualifications through a five-week work course to impart some of the most important skills required for employment. “We have seen that work readiness training is absolutely essential to help bridge the massive gap between school and the workplace. Concepts like personal mastery, creating professional CVs, simple computer skills and even how to conduct oneself in the workplace are lacking for many new workforce entrants. It cannot be stressed enough how important these skills are for individuals entering the workforce, as they have been proven to greatly benefit the careers of young people.”
However, she adds that training on its own is not enough to make a meaningful difference. “This is why candidates are also given employment opportunities at the end of the programme. We have already applied this approach in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and we are currently reviewing its potential for the Eastern Cape,” she says.
“We believe that there are more changes to come regarding youth training and employment, and companies willing to put time and money into worthy initiatives such as YES will see increasing benefits over the coming years,” Khan concludes.
Mazars is an international, integrated and independent organisation, specialising in audit, accounting, tax and advisory services across a wide range of markets and sectors. As of 1st January 2018, Mazars operates throughout 86 countries and territories that makes up its integrated partnership. Mazars draws upon the expertise of 20 000 men and woman led by 980 partners working from 300 offices worldwide. We assist clients of all sizes from SMEs to mid-caps and global players as well as start-ups and public organisations, at every stage of their development.