Why e-Merge said YES! and how 4 interns are making their mark

It bugs me that we have a 55% odd unemployment rate amongst South African youth. While Govt talks about skytrains, whether Cyril took the money or not & whether Ndunas should be given extra benefits & more money; our youngsters waste away at home. SA currently has the highest rate of unemployment among youth worldwide – I was more than staggered by that number; how does the “gateway to Africa” have a 55.2% unemployment rate for South Africans between the ages of 15 and 34? No wonder it’s called a “ticking time bomb”.

It’s a bugbear that I can’t let go of. Govt (and yes I do blame Govt. Business has its own failings but Govt is the “referee”, it’s the champion of education & it’s the owner of regulation. They’ve been happy to squander limited resources with policy uncertainty, process irregularity & open disdain for the work that needs to be done) has abandoned so many in our economy. It’s unacceptable that the self-proclaimed “champions of the people” throw business under the bus whenever they can.

Mavis (Mathabela eMerge Operations Director) & I have spent the last few years looking for ways a little business like us could contribute more. We’ve thrown ourselves at initiatives with varying success. Some have shown promise but many have become just ways for business to window dress their responsibilities by meeting the legal requirements of BBBEE but not the moral requirements.

It became an obsession to do more than just hit our BBBEE numbers but to impact young people as much as we could.

When Mavis came across the Yes! Initiative I must admit that I was a little cynical. It sounded like just another sales pitch singing the same tune others had in the past.

The results though have far surpassed what I expected to achieve.

We’ve found ourselves employing 4 wonderful souls who we are hoping to give a big step up into the world & ideally helping to empower or perhaps enable with the aim of helping them get their professional lives some momentum moving forward.

We’re lucky enough to have the extra capital to contribute by more than just 1 person at a time. We also respect that so many businesses are flying by the skin of their teeth in their bottom lines.

However, we find ourselves in a mutually beneficial position where we have brought on high calibre intelligent youngsters a little desperate for someone to give them a chance while not bankrupting ourselves in the process.

It’s an absolute win win for both parties & I’m so grateful to people like Yes! for helping us get here.

Mavis has issued a challenge to the recruitment community here in SA; without us SMEs digging into the trenches, Govt has proven that they are incapable of hitting their 14% unemployment rate target over the next 5 years. If each of us hired just 1 youngster through a program like Yes!, as an industry we could make a massive dent in unemployment, skills development and the future of our youngsters. We must play an active hand if we hope to build the South Africa we all want and need.

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