By Thabiso M. Mohlabeng


South Africa has a record-high unemployment rate for job seekers between the ages of 15 to 24. The youth unemployment rate remained unchanged between the third and fourth quarters of 2021, sitting at 66.50%. Statistics SA revealed that the manufacturing sector lost 85 000 jobs during the fourth quarter, while construction shed over 25 000. On a positive note, the agricultural sector tallied up 38 000 new jobs. In this month’s edition of Public Sector Leaders, we take a look at public-private partnerships that assist in creating job opportunities in South Africa, especially for the youth.

With all the doom and gloom, there is a ray of sunshine as the South African economy continues to open as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. The private and public sector continue to work together to create employment.

His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa noted during the State Of The Nation address: “We all know that [the] government does not create jobs, businesses create jobs. Last year our unemployment rate reached its highest recorded level. Unemployment has been caused by low growth, which has resulted from the long-term decline in investment in our economy, which has lasted for a number of years.”

President Ramaphosa said that the state “must create an environment in which the private sector can invest and unleash the dynamism of our economy”.



Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is a not-for-profit social enterprise building African solutions for the global challenge of youth unemployment. They work with a variety of partners who are committed to results that can work at scale – including government, the private sector, civil society, and over 1.5 million youth. Some of the key partners that they work with are: BPESA, Pick ‘n Pay, Unilever, Gauteng Government, FNB, Standard Bank, BUSA, SASOL and the Presidency South Africa.

Harambee is committed to changing the system by removing the barriers that keep millions of young South Africans locked out of opportunities. Harambee’s vision is of a growing economy and a society that works, powered by the potential of young people.



YES is a business-led collaboration that seeks groundbreaking ways to reignite the economy and give youth a dignified first chance, through innovation and technological best practices. The YES 12-month quality work experience equips unemployed youth with a toolkit to be a beacon of hope for their families, households and communities. The initiative has created over 75 055 opportunities, funnelled over R4.2-billion into the South African economy, and over 650 companies have boosted their B-BBEE score by partnering with the organisation. Some of the companies that participate in the initiative include Spar Group, Transnet, Investec, Netcare, Nedbank and Vodacom amongst others.

The initiative has a variety of hubs that assist in upskilling the youth. 

Digitate Lab: Digital training lab offering a range of specialised digital learning programmes. Training partners include Vodacom, Google, Microsoft and IT Varsity.

Green Engine Aquaponics and Farming: Hydroponics programmes and commercial farms where youth learn about urban agriculture and sell their produce.

Drone Academy: Candidates are taught how to repair, operate and fly drones to provide services to key sectors of the economy.

The YES Culinary Academy: Chef training and entrepreneurial incubation with live restaurants running while youth learn.


Nestlé All4YOUth

In 2013, Nestlé made a commitment to assist 10 million young people with worldwide access to economic opportunities by 2030. Nestlé has created a program for recent graduates, allowing aspiring culinary and differently-abled persons an opportunity to showcase their talents and upskill themselves. 

The Nestlé graduate program caters for over 6 000 applicants each year. Successful applicants participate in a 24-month rotational development program that provides an introduction to the working world of Nestlé and also allows them to gain a strong foundation for further development. The programme caters for agile, open-minded persons willing to solve problems and collaborate with others. 

The Nestlé Internship Development Program is a 12-month program that is anchored by providing on-the-job training for unemployed youth. It differs slightly from the graduate programme as there are no rotations; participants focus on acquiring the expertise needed to forge a successful career in their chosen field. 

Nestlé also has a programme called YOCUTA, which stands for Young Culinary Talents. The aim of the program is to develop young chefs by equipping students with all the necessary tools to chase a successful career in the culinary industry. Through this programme, young chefs acquire a wide range of practical and theoretical skills required to succeed. Nestlé also provides learnerships for differently-abled persons.


Black Umbrellas

Recently, Honourable Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Small Business Development, encouraged South Africans to pursue entrepreneurship to help eliminate poverty. For young South African entrepreneurs who are interested in growing their businesses and finding success, Black Umbrellas brings together other aspiring entrepreneurs, investors and mentors under the same parasol.

Their focus is on developing qualifying businesses to a level where they can obtain significant, easy access to procurement, financing and networking opportunities. While their programmes and platforms are available to any business, at any stage of their development, Black Umbrellas’ primary enabler is the enterprise and supplier development requirements of the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice.

South African youth have a number of opportunities available to them to position themselves better for the work environment. Other private-public initiatives aimed at the youth include:

  • Signa Academy
  • 4Afrika Microsoft
  • Google 4 Africa
  • Amy Foundation
  • TEDxYouth@CapeTown
  • Touch: South Africa – powered by the Loeries
  • AMA Academy and many more


These platforms are available to equip the youth with skills and knowledge, including practical knowledge needed by both the public and private sectors in South Africa.


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