Youth unemployment is at an all-time high, with 62,1% of the youth unemployed in South Africa. To help address this issue, the Youth Employment Service (YES), also known as Yes4Youth, was established in 2018 and has created over 107 355 jobs. YES is an non-profit organisation funded by the private sector.

The YES programme aims to help youth change the way they look for jobs and to find jobs in different sectors, such as education, health, and sales. The programme lasts for 12 months and the YES programme claims, according to their website, that the youth who participate in the YES programme have a higher chance of finding a job: “The CV & reference letter they get at the end of their 12-months gives them a 3 x greater chance of an interview call-back.”

I spoke to Lorain Jantjies, 27, who participated in the YES programme to find out more. Lorain is from Manenberg and was unemployed when she first heard of the YES programme from friends. She applied and that’s how her journey with YES started.

Fundza: How you were introduced to the YES programme?

Lorain: One day, one of my friends that was already in the Yes4Youth programme told me that her mentor was looking for one more candidate and I was extremely excited and rushed to get my paperwork in order. That is where my journey with the Yes4Youth programme began.

Fundza: How did the programme prepare you for the job search process, and what skills did you learn that helped you succeed?

Lorain: We did a module on career guidance and communication skills, as well as a module on how to behave professionally in your workspace. We had to do various activities that includes us having open discussions and talking in front of the class. That improved my communication skills a lot and due to all the training sessions, it gave my confidence a huge boost to chase after my goals and never give up until I reach it. We had great mentors that believed in us and they constantly motivated us and I think that also contributed to my success, just knowing that someone believed in me and supported me when I doubted myself.

Fundza: Explain what the YES programme entailed. What was the process?

Lorain: The YES programme taught us how to work with people in general and specifically with the little ones and how we can contribute to their holistic development while working as an teacher’s assistant. The process I had to go through was having my paperwork ready, like my CV, etc as well as going for an interview and doing a criminal check. When you sign your contract you know you are officially part of the Yes4Youth programme.

Fundza: How did the programme help you with creating a CV and cover letter?

Lorain: Like I have mentioned above we did modules on career guidance and we were taught how to create a CV, what important information to include and how it should look.

Fundza: What type of job did you land as a result of participating in the employment youth service program? Do you enjoy it?

Lorain: As a result of the Yes4Youth program I am now doing a Learnership for ORT SA Cape Education and I’m currently working at a créche working with little ones, inspiring young minds and yes I enjoy it a lot. Not only am I on my way to reaching my goal in becoming a teacher, but I’m gaining experience in the process and I’m passionate about working with kids in general.

Fundza: Were there any challenges you faced during your job search, and how did you overcome them with the help of the program?

Lorain: Yes, there were challenges, not having a phone while seeking employment were one, as well as my age didn’t allow me to go for certain opportunities and my communication skills were bad. The various training sessions helped tremendously as I’m more confident and my English improved. I don’t stutter much when I’m being interviewed. I’m also receiving a stipend so I’m more financially independent and I have a now phone which allows me to search for jobs online.

Fundza: How did the program help you to prepare for job interviews?

Lorain: I gained a lot of experience in working with people and this program thought me to always plan ahead, to research the company I’m being interviewed by, and to prepare my answers for an interview, so I can answer questions confidently also to give examples of were I gained experience. It also taught me not to take things too personally especially when hearing the word no, but rather taking the word “No” and turning it into “try again”. The program also taught me to be productive while being unemployed by searching for opportunities to do short courses or to learn new skills.

Fundza: What advice would you give to someone who is considering participating in the YES programme?

Lorain: Go for it! Be willing to learn, to work hard and your life will definitely be changed in a positive way.

The YES programme may not not lead to a permanent form of employment, but Lorain’s experience shows that it can be a stepping stone on the way to the world of work. You can learn more about the YES programme here.


Tell us: What incredible stories or unforgettable moments have you encountered while taking part in a youth-related programme? Share your journey with us!

Read more here to learn about a determined teacher.