60 Free State graduates placed in SMMEs as efforts to reduce unemployment continue

YES - 60 Free State graduates placed in SMMEs as efforts to reduce unemployment continue

Sixty Free State graduates have been placed in small business companies for work experience through the government’s Youth Employment Service (YES) progamme. This is done to mitigate the high rate of unemployment. At least 30.8% of the South African population is jobless.

Many people have lost jobs as a result of  the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. According to Stats SA, the country has seen the highest unemployment rate since 2008.

SA’s unemployment rate increased to 30,8 % in the third quarter:

The Free State government says it has partnered with the private sector to address joblessness in the province, which has increased by 7.5%  in the third quarter of 2020.

Free State small enterprises that received funding from government have been asked to place one unemployed youth for 12 months so that they can gain the necessary work experience.

Finance graduate, Tankiso Relebohile says this will afford her an opportunity to learn more skills.

“We knock at different doors, it’s either you get rejected or it’s you’ll do something that you didn’t study you’ll cleaning or making tea. So I’m really grateful that the government and private sector are working together in order to help us as a youth.”

Another graduate, Gomotsegang Motlapele, says the programme has come as a relief to students – who have just completed their studies.

“I’m gonna gain experience and I was unemployed now so I think it’s a great opportunity and then even in December so it’s gonna keep me busy so I think that’s why and if ever in future I wanna like start my own business I think it’s gonna help with that as well.”

Small business owner, Itumeleng Modukanele, who received financial support from government says she is grateful for government support.

“It is going to help me expand my business and also plan to employ another person.”

A financial institution has partnered with government and will pay each of the graduates employed a stipend of R3 500 a month for a year.

“The bank pays stipend to the youth and youth are placed with different SMMEs and this year we have partnered with DESTEA. And this is the first time that we bring it in the Free State. So really this is part of our efforts going forward is quite crucial. And if there is a need going forward we said we will return the numbers,” says Standard Bank head of sectors and products, Nolwazi Nkeane.

The programme will not only create job opportunities – but also assist with the sustainability of SMMEs, says Free State Economic Development MEC, Makalo Mohale.

“With this type of programme we create employment opportunities by giving the youngsters experience as well as giving the necessary support to those funded by SMMEs. In order to make sure that the investment we have made to them does not go to waste but that investment can flourish and we can obtain that which we intended.”

The effects of COVID-19 continues to be felt – as the second surge in infections spreads rapidly – and affects all forms of businesses.

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