Recently released stats indicated that the South African economy contracted in the second quarter of 2019 and unemployment rose. Most worrisome is the unprecedented level of unemployment amongst Youth, which sits at a staggering 55.20 % and remains our country’s most serious socio-economic concern.
Pressure from Youth has steadily escalated with movements like #FeesMustFall and calls for the scrapping of experience requirements in junior jobs as these are recognized as major barriers to youth entering the workplace. The government has responded by indicating the removal of experience criteria for entry-level public sector jobs, extensions to NFAS funding for more students, and partnerships with businesses including Yes4Youth.
Economic pressures and the growing impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) have seen pressure placed on organizations and workers with skills requirements changing faster than curricula and an increase in the scope of flexible work opportunities. The Temporary Employment Services (TES) industry, often criticized as creating a casualization of labor, is in fact rather an enabler of 4IR workplace realities, facilitating the development and transition of work-ready skills for organizations and workers.
Faster Enabler of Youth Employment
Research by Professor Haroon Bhorat of the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) at the University of Cape Town clearly shows that the TES industry employs and absorbs youth at a higher rate than any other sector in SA. Acting as a bridge to the workplace, the TES sector provides work readiness programs and is one of the largest skills development facilitators, enabling Youth to access employment.
The age-old challenge of getting a job without experience, but having no job to provide said experience, is often solved by the temporary and contract opportunities facilitated by TES. For many young people who begin their careers with TES, the valuable exposure, skills, references and experience gained across different organisations and industries, enables them to apply for and secure long-term employment.
Promoting Professionalism and Protecting the Vulnerable
The TES and Private Employment Agencies (PEA) industries are currently self-regulated, although the Employment Services Act will require licensing with Department of Labour once s13 is promulgated. It is illegal for agencies to charge fees of any kind and workers are reminded to report any that do.
Agencies that belong to associations under the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment Sector (CAPES) are not only audited to ensure full compliance with all prevailing legislation but are also bound to strict Codes of Ethics and Professional Practice.
Workers, particularly youth who might be more vulnerable as a result of their lack of experience, are encouraged to work via agencies who belong to these Associations.