VW, Nedbank say YES programme is enhancing youth employability

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Youth Employment Service in Johannesburg. Photo: Official Cyril Ramaphosa Twitter account

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Youth Employment Service in Johannesburg. Photo: Official Cyril Ramaphosa Twitter account

Published Jun 20, 2024


Volkswagen Group Africa (VWGA) and Nedbank have become some of the latest companies to have committed themselves to enhancing employability among young people through the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme amid the worryingly growing joblessness among the youth in South Africa.

This comes as 508 new YES candidates joined VWGA this month, with 282 placed at the Kariega plant, as well as the sales and marketing, and after-sales divisions in Gauteng and Cape Town, while 226 candidates were placed within the dealer network.

VWGA yesterday said more than 3 000 YES candidates have gained valuable work experience through the group and its dealer network since 2019.

This 12-month programme offers young people their first employment opportunity, enabling them to earn a living and contribute to economic growth.

“As a company with a proud history of commitment to sustainable development and transformation in the country, and as a company that has always been responsive to societal needs, we have pledged our support to the YES initiative by creating job opportunities for South Africa's youth,” said Nonkqubela Maliza, VWGA director for corporate and government affairs.

“Our goal is to connect our YES trainees to permanent employment opportunities, hence we are piloting a Volkswagen Sales Skills Training programme.”

Last week, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) announced plans to cut 700 jobs out of roughly 3 000 employees at its East London manufacturing plant due to deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and prolonged port challenges.

This highlighted the continuous challenges within the domestic automotive industry brought about by slowing demand on the back of elevated consumer inflation and record-high interest rates, as well as the influx of cheaper alternatives from the East.

According to the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) automotive sector overview published at the beginning of this year, South Africa’s global vehicle production ranking was 22nd with a 0.65% global vehicle production market share.

With the country’s growing youth unemployment rate, recently reported at a staggering 45.5%, this gathering was said to be more timely to decode the digital skills gap and unlock the R400 billion untapped economic opportunity that digital skills could deliver to the South African economy.

Meanwhile, a YES youth candidate from Mamelodi, Pretoria, Setshaba Sthembiso Phalane, who has made a winning start to his Nedbank career, said his passion to continue learning has made him a role model in his community.

Phalane joined Nedbank in 2022 as a service consultant after his year-long stint as a YES candidate. At the bank’s 2023 formal recognition awards, his enterprising nature earned him the prestigious Top 3 CEO Apprentice of the Year accolade.

In 2015, he joined shoe retailer VANS, swiftly earning a promotion to assistant store manager before becoming manager in 2017. That year, he joined the media company TRACE to work on B2B marketing. Things went awry after the Covid-19 pandemic. But his never-say-quit attitude saw him apply for a Nedbank YES Youth opportunity.

“People in the community keep asking how I made it into the corporate world, and now want to walk in my footsteps,” he said as he recalled that he was unemployed for a year before getting the call that changed his life.