Youth Employment Initiative Helps Elevate Women In Education


The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) is making strides in alleviating some of the heavy weight of unemployment amongst the South African youth. While there is still much more to be done, the programme has brought job opportunities directly to the youth.



The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) continues to create job opportunities for the country's unemployed youth, helping them to earn some money and gain experience. 

What Is The PYEI? 

The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) has been implemented as part of the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) across South Africa. It has been implemented in all nine provinces as a way of solving the chronic youth unemployment crisis the country is facing. 

The PYEI was introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during 2020, and while the programme has made a significant contribution to combatting youth unemployment, its implementation is set to come to an end, as Phase Four of the programme concludes September 2023. 

The Department of Basic Education (DBE), has created over 1 million employment opportunities for young people across its four phases.

How Does The PYEI Work?

The BEEI saw young people employed at schools around South Africa as education assistants and general school assistants. 

These roles include Curriculum Assistants, Reading Champions, E-Cadres, Care and Support Assistants, Sports and Enrichment Assistants, and Handymen/Women. These youth were paid a monthly stipend of R4,081.44, aligning with South Africa’s minimum wage.

Between April and June this year, at least 135,000 earning opportunities were secured by young people through the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative’s (PYEI) National Pathway Management Network.

Some 108 061 of these were accessed through the SA Youth platform, with 27 088 opportunities scored through the Department of Employment and Labour’s Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) website, states the Basic Education Employment Initiative, in a recent media briefing.

While the programme's main focus is to combat youth unemployment, the DBE introduced several additional programmes that aimed to ensure BEEI participants receive both soft and hard skills required to succeed in the South African workforce. 

These compulsory training courses aimed to equip BEEI participants with skills relevant to the South African job market, including digital literacy, privacy protection, fact-checking, and advocating for change. Microsoft Office, cybersecurity, and digital technology were also offered at no cost to the participants. 

The DBE also facilitated The PYEI-BEEI Entrepreneurial Training, which gave the youth information on learning, earning and entrepreneurial opportunities.

According to the PYEI dashboard, since its April 2020 inception, some 4.1 million people have registered and are accessing the SA Youth platform. In addition to this, more than 1 million earning opportunities have been secured by young people.

Women Are Accessing The Most Opportunities Through The PYEI

The gender gap when it comes to women finding and securing employment in South Africa is one barrier that remains in existence, despite progress being made.

It was recently discovered that the female population is taking up the most space in higher education; this is welcomed news as women in South Africa often find themselves at the short-end of the stick.

Director of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, Lerato Shai, told the media briefing that of the work opportunities accessed by young people, at least 70% of these were accessed by young women.

On paper, South Africa's women should be succeeding. The country has solid female representation in high Government positions, there are laws protecting the rights of the women, women have marched and fought for those rights, and there are now more equal opportunities to gain a decent education.

Shai said:

What we are learning through SA Youth, is that young women continue to face specific barriers even as progress is being made. In particular…more young women are actually getting educated than young men.

We are seeing more women that are educated, that are tenacious but they’re still facing substantial barriers once they enter into the labour market with many of them being far less employed and, where they are, earning far less than what men earn in the same jobs.

Despite all the triumphs of our country's women, education inequality presents as a challenge globally, and is reflective in the higher unemployment rate amongst women than amongst men in South Africa. 

Statistics South Africa mentions that according to 2021's Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the South African labour market shows to be more favourable to men than it is to women. 

Discrimination based on gender persists, most of all affecting women of colour and women living in poverty. 

The report states that:

Women in South Africa and around the world still face additional challenges that hinder them from accessing employment. Once they are in employment, appointments to decision-making positions and jobs in certain sectors, or of certain characteristics, remain elusive. Men are more likely to be in paid employment than women regardless of race, while women are more likely than men to be doing unpaid work. 

Not only are women facing barriers when it comes to gaining substantial employment, but if they do manage to successfully obtain a source of income, they're paid less than their male counterparts.

Shai continued, saying that if there is intentional design in the programmes to tackle the barriers that are affecting young women, especially in male dominated sectors, women take up these opportunities, run with them and create new pathways for themselves.

What we really are seeing is that to tip the scale towards more equity, we need a systemic shift. So it’s not about jobs for girls, but employment systems that actually work for women. 

Turning to the Youth Employment Service (YES), Shai said this initiative is also dominated by young women.

They are supporting just over 58% of young women and since its inception, they’ve managed to really start to generate the kind of demand and access to opportunities we are wanting to see in the private sector, with 42% of their alumni employed in permanent or contract roles.

There Are Attempts To Keep The PYEI Going 

Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Kenny Morolong said it is critical for the PYEI to receive more funding in order to reach more young people and continue the success its seen so far.

That is why we are engaging [National] Treasury and are awaiting a pronouncement during the MTBPS period because the recapitalisation of the PYI programme will go a long way in reaching out to many other young people who have yet to transition from learning to earning.

Morolong added:

Over 4.1 million young people are participating in the platform at no cost. There is evidence that they are being linked to opportunities and those opportunities are critical for their livelihoods. It is a programme that we intend to sustain and that is why discussions are ensuing with National Treasury to recapitalise it.

Reflecting on the current employment challenges, the Deputy Minister spoke on the need to create pathways into the economy for youth, not only as employees, but as entrepreneurs.

“It is important to get young people participating in the mainstream economy. This programme is also critical because it exposes young people to self-employment opportunities; that is why we encourage young people to take full advantage of it,” he said.

South Africa Is Home To Shocking Youth Unemployment Rates

South Africa has continuously been battling severe levels of poverty and unemployment, but the situation is particularly worrying amongst the youth demographic.

Considering the high unemployment rate among South African youth – currently at 63.9% for those aged 15 to 24 – the PYEI has played a crucial role in providing job opportunities.

Brigit Hannah, Innovation Director at the DG Murray Trust believes the BEEI had a positive impact on the country’s education sector while at the same time working to combat youth unemployment. 

One major aspect of the BEEI is that it gives money directly to young participants, saving on administrative costs and helping those who need it most.  Additionally, participants receive basic training that can lead to more opportunities after the program ends, tackling both joblessness and skills. 

Despite these benefits offered by the BEEI, the youth employment programme’s implementation is set to conclude later this year. 


Suggested Article:

Youth-led enterprises celebrates new NYDA grant funding

In the first quarter of 2022, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) revealed that the unemployment rate increased to 63.9% for people aged 15-24 years old. On the other hand, unemployment stood at 42.1% for the 25-34 age group, prompting government to find ways to combat youth unemployment. 





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