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SMMEs Can Play Bigger Role In Youth Job Creation

Small Medium to Micro Enterprises have a vital role to play in the creation of jobs, especially in targeting the rampant youth unemployment rate, says PR Worx Managing Director, Madelain Roscher.

“The most vulnerable people in the labour market right now are young people. And while it is often easier to shift all responsibility towards the government, as businesses, whether SMMEs or large corporations, we are as culpable. The private sector further has the advantage of moving a lot quicker than the government in reacting to the shifts in the job market. Due to this, they have an even bigger onus in sharing their skill sets and providing employment opportunities to the youth,” explains Roscher.

She says it is in reaction to the high youth unemployment rate in South Africa that her firm held its inauguration annual Intern-Orientation Day.

“Kicking off the year in high gear,  we put out a message on our social media pages, asking for eager, motivated and willing candidates in the public relations space to join PR Worx for a day. The responses we received were profoundly overwhelming. We had candidates as far Cape Town and Durban asking to be a part of this day. We settled on the best 20 candidates, challenged their understanding of the public relations industry and from that, we selected three to join PR Worx on a 12-month paid internship programme,” says Roscher.

According to Statistics South Africa, the burden of unemployment is concentrated amongst the youth aged 15–34 years as they account for 63,4% of the total number of unemployed persons.

Those aged between 15–24 years are considered the most vulnerable, with the unemployment rate sitting at 55,2% in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Among graduates in the same age group, the unemployment rate was 31,0% during the mentioned period compared to 19,5% in the 4th quarter of 2018 – an increase of 11,4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter.

The three successful candidates are yet to be announced, with Roscher teasing a big reveal on social media.

PR Worx also hosted Dr Rene Benecke, the President of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) as the keynote speaker and guest of honour during its Intern-Orientation Day.

The day was centred around sharing industry insights along with overcoming challenges and the type of avenues available for those with a more entrepreneurial spirit.

In his 2019 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government will focus on significantly expanding the small business incubation programmes, allowing for more people, especially the youth to start and succeed in business.

“The reality is not everyone will be employed immediately after graduating from tertiary.  Some people, whether out of necessity or desperation will even start businesses. But as SMMEs it is important that we assist as many young people as possible, whether through mentorships to help them avoid certain pitfalls that often cripple small emerging companies. Or through ongoing internship programmes such as ours. The government alone won’t be able to do it, ” concludes  Roscher.

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