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YOUTH: Nestlé feeding the unemployed

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12 months ago, Rendani Netshivhale was an unemployed BCom graduate who despaired of ever getting a job. Today, she’s the top consultant at a Johannesburg-based recruitment agency, and her future has never been brighter.

Rendani is one of more than 40,507 young South Africans to have benefited from a 12-month work experience provided by the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) in the past 22 months. YES is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that works with business, government and labour to build economic pathways for black youth.

Originally sponsored by multinational food manufacturer Nestlé, Rendani joined Inyosi Empowerment’s work experience programme in November 2019, where she was placed with SelectONE as a recruiter – and is about to be employed full-time when her work experience ends.

“Being part of this initiative changed my status from an individual who was part of the unemployed youth, to an employed person who is ready to kickstart her career. I have grown and learnt so much. I’m more confident, independent and responsible, not only with my workload, but my finances as well,” she said.

Bruno Olierhoek, Chairman and Managing Director of Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), said making a positive difference in communities where the company operates is an integral part of their long-term and sustainable development strategy.

“We have invested R1,6 billion in job creation, skills development and community upliftment projects in the past year.  This figure included investments of R52 million to support emerging black farmers through our dairy projects in the Eastern and Western Cape, as well as incremental spend of R100 million on black rural development projects across the country,” said Olierhoek.

These skills development investments played an important part in their recent achievement of a Level 3 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) certification. Nestlé’s new score is a two-level upward improvement, from its previous Level 5, at a time when most multinationals struggle to either comply or attain higher levels when it comes to transformational initiatives around B-BBEE.

YES chief executive Dr Tashmia Ismail said Nestlé’s certification highlighted the ability of B-BBEE scorecards to stimulate job creation and drive economic growth. “YES offers South African businesses a way to improve their B-BBEE levels, over and above the standard B-BBEE scorecard elements, while driving impactful transformation. Companies that create a target number of work experiences can benefit with a B-BBEE rating increase of one, or even two, full levels,” she said.

YES has created over 40,507 new work experiences in just 22 months in conjunction with more than 1,200 private sector partners, including the likes of TIH, Nedbank, ABSA and VW. In this way, it has poured more than R2,2 billion into local economies through youth salaries.

Dr Ismail-Saville said a recent YES survey, of over 3,000 youth placed in 12-month work experiences, highlighted the critical need to create jobs to increase the economic participation of the youth, particularly in the time of Covid-19. In all, 80% of the youth surveyed were supporting more people financially with their YES salaries since the lockdown started, including family, friends and even neighbours.

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