With nearly 60 000 jobs created, the Youth Employment Service’s (YES) B-BBEE incentive has proven to be an incredibly popular tool for businesses that are passionate about creating work experiences for young South Africans. As companies return for second, third and fourth year participation, technology will play an increasingly important role in managing these programs.

Running a YES program can be an incredibly rewarding experience. There are very few things that are more satisfying than seeing a young team member benefit from the access to technology, skills, social and professional capital. But over the last 16 months, many organisations have had to try and incorporate youth in an environment where they work remotely or with limited contact with other team members due to COVID-19 restrictions.How To Use Technology To Super-Charge Your YES Program

Thankfully, it is the 21st century and technology comes to the rescue:

BEE Software can alleviate expensive mistakes
We recently met with a potential client who had completely miscalculated their skills spend which, in turn, impacted their ability to claim their YES participation. This mistake hurt them in terms of wasted spend on skills training, a year of YES participation and a missed contract because they didn’t get the level they were expecting.

Where clients do not have a pre-existing solution in place, we will typically assist them with the implementation of an appropriate technology solution to help them manage their priority elements. This will help them track their priority elements on the scorecard and trigger reminders about when they need to implement their YES programs.

The YES Mobile Phones
While completion of the modules on the YES mobile phones is not a requirement for B-BBEE verification, it is an important part of the Monitoring and Evaluation function of your YES cohorts.

Completion of the content on the phones provides insight into your highly engaged youth, the ability to track the sentiment of your cohort and ultimately populate the digital CV or reference letter at the end of the program.

Where your youth are working under the supervision of third parties, these phones also provide them with call-centre support should they wish to provide feedback on their work experience.

The interview process
For many youth in South Africa, one of the single biggest challenges is getting to and from physical interviews, and this often excludes them from potential jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way youth are interviewed and through the use of ZOOM, Microsoft Teams as well as WhatsApp calls, the interview process is being democratized. We are rapidly interviewing and appointing youth and if we are looking for more specific roles, we can use tools such as Knack, Myers-Briggs and so forth.

File first, talk later – Establish a digital file
At its core, YES is a B-BBEE initiative and that means you need to have your data ready for the Verification Agency. This means compiling emails, contracts, affidavits, ID documents, bank letters and other supporting documentation. Before we even sent out employment contracts, each youth had an individual digital file set up with their CV inside. When it comes to verification, all documentation is available on demand.

Keeping engaged during a pandemic
One of the hardest challenges for any manager or supervisor is the ability to stay engaged with their youth when working remotely. In a normal working environment, youth arrive at work and are under day-to-day supervision. For many organisations, their youth need to work remotely to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the key things we do is have a catch up Zoom meeting on a Friday morning. This meeting is not task-oriented but rather serves as a tool to check in with one another at a personal level each week where two team members are expected to share something they’ve learnt during the week. It can be a tech tool, something they have read or even what they have learnt to cook. As the sessions have gone along, the team have been challenged to deliver slicker and more engaging PowerPoint or Prezi presentations.

Through these sessions we have discovered great tech tools, had fantastic Design Thinking challenges and personal finance challenges.

Online learning
Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and other online learning platforms are great ways to ensure your staff are learning industry specific skills and you can track their progress in real-time.

Importantly, a lot of local business executives like Peter Alkema (CTO for FNB) and entrepreneur York Zucchi have rolled out online learning courses that allow participants to interact with the presenters. This helps to build professional networks in a democratized manner.

Leveling up on LinkedIn
The key purpose behind YES is to offer a 12-month work experience which gives them skills and ultimately social and professional capital. According to industry data, LinkedIn-influenced hires are twice as likely to be “above average” and 40% less likely to leave the company within 6 months.

In a digital world, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for youth looking to differentiate themselves and ultimately be absorbed into the workplace.

The power of YES is best captured in the words of one of our recent YES candidates:

I’ve experienced growth and development as an individual, I believe I’m more experienced than I was when I first joined the program and I’ve made connections with people in my field, at a higher level, and I am looking forward to learn more from them.”

Submitted by Decusatio

Samantha Metcalfe

Samantha Metcalfe

Problem-Solver, Decusatio

Samantha Metcalfe is a Problem-Solver at Decusatio, a consulting firm established to help entrepreneurs to tackle the twin challenges of Access to Finance and Access To Markets.

A firm believer that your staff are your greatest asset, Samantha focuses on Human Resources and skills for getting the most out of your teams. She has managed Youth Employment Service (YES) programs in the fields of marketing and finance and continues to look for ways for high-growth businesses to get the most out of their teams. Sam can be reached via e-mail: Sam@decusatio.co.za