GIBB, one of South Africa’s leading multi-disciplinary engineering consulting companies with a substantial presence across the African continent, has partnered with Government’s Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative to drive future employability amongst South Africa’s youth.
Introduced in 2018, the YES initiative is a government and business-driven initiative which seeks to tackle South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis.
While Stats SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Quarter 3 of 2022 indicates a decrease in the official unemployment rate, down to 32.9% from 33.9% in quarter 2, the unemployment status of South Africa’s youth remains critical, with seven million people, or 56.1% of those aged 15-34, unemployed.
According to Siphamandla Mahlaba, Senior Learning and Development Consultant at GIBB, the company is committed to providing opportunities for some of the country’s youth and ensuring they have a more promising future in the world of work.
“Many of the learners who are part of the initiative at GIBB don’t have prior work experience,” adds Mahlaba. “The programme will provide the students with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience that will make them more employable in the future, be it within GIBB if an opportunity arises or at future employers once their 12-month period with GIBB ends.”
As the first year in which the company has participated in the initiative, GIBB advertised posts externally and in line with the criteria set by the Government and the needs within the business. With over 1,800 applications, selecting the right candidates for the programme was essential.
To do so, GIBB selected students based on the three criteria, namely that they are South African citizens, between the ages of 18 and 28, and held a minimum qualification of matric. Added to this, candidates had to be ambitious and hungry to learn, with those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds taking preference.
“A total of 15 students were selected for the 12-month initiative and are deployed across several business units within GIBB, including Power, Water, Architecture, Transport and others,” comments Mahlaba.
Maike Zirzow, Human Resources Business Partner at GIBB, adds that while many of these students may not have industry experience, they will also be exposed to what the company defines as good work ethics – a skill which is crucial to ensure their future workplace success.
While GIBB has a structured programme that the students follow during their tenure with the company, the YES initiative too has a detailed programme in place. The initiative provides students with tablets that are pre-loaded with a variety of online training tools to assist them in upskilling themselves and garnering soft skills such as emotional intelligence, communication, and negotiation, amongst others.
“From a GIBB perspective, our role focuses largely on how we can provide students with the necessary experience to make them as employable as possible after their time with the company,” says Mahlaba. “This means that the work experience they are exposed to needs to be relevant to the courses they intend on taking in the future, allowing them to strengthen their CVs for future employment opportunities.”
Mahlaba adds that the company treats the students as employees instead of merely as students, providing them with the same induction processes as they would any other employee and the necessary working tools such as a laptop and workstation.
Apart from the valuable work experience gained in their respective business units and niches over their 12-month internship with GIBB, students will also walk away with insights on how to look for job opportunities, create a CV, and how to conduct themselves in a business environment.
Speaking on the recent appointment within the marketing department at GIBB, YES student Sinqobile Chili is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
“Although I have only been with the company for a few weeks, the experience I am gaining at GIBB so far has already proven invaluable,” says Chili. “From creating relationships amongst my peers to understanding the inner workings of the company and how the various roles lead to its success, I am excited for what lies ahead during my time with GIBB and how the teachings will allow me to thrive in the future.”