Launched in November 2020 the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) includes the largest public employment programme in South Africa’s history with 83% youth beneficiaries, having provided work experience to over one million South Africans. One of its programmes, the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI), has placed over 750 000 young people in 22 000 schools across the country, as teacher assistants and general assistants.
The BEEI is now in its fourth phase but is only funded until March 2024 – we must make sure that the funding continues for this programme. It is important because it gives young people much-needed work experience that will keep them plugged into the economy, while serving their communities and providing teachers and learners with support in schools – which is a much needed resource,, especially considering the country’s literacy crisis. Programmes like this can also set young people up to thrive within the just transition to renewable energy by giving them the necessary transferable skills.
Following Phase 1, Youth Capital partnered with ORT SA CAPE and Youth@work, to carry out research to understand the impact of the BEEI.
The findings show that:
- An average of 98% of schools thought that the assistants were beneficial to the school;
- Six in 10 respondents were unemployed prior to their employment as an assistant;
- Only two of the 10 school management respondents said that assistants had been given adequate training in Phase 1 before commencing work at the school.
- The BEEI created 1,135 100 short-term work opportunities across the four phases;
- An average of R6.4 billion was spent per phase nationally;
- The programme extended the contract period for Phase 4 to eight months- a recommendation from Youth Capital’s work in Phase 1.
Why are programmes like this so important?
- The National Treasury estimates the average probability of a young person (aged 18 – 24) finding a job is only 25%, while younger people find jobs at a much slower rate than older unemployed individuals. One of the biggest challenges for young people is a lack of work experience and social employment programmes are a key strategy to address that gap;
- The progress across the four phases show that the BEEI is learning across each phase and as the only social employment programme to have such a nationally representative footprint across all 9 provinces!), has the potential to be a meaningful stepping stone for young people on their journey to economic productivity.
So what can you do about it?
Youth Capital in partnership with Greenpeace are calling on you to add your name to the letter to the Minister of Finance and National Treasury, to urge them to continue funding this programme. Youth Capital would also love to hear from you about how this programme has benefited you, your school and your community. The more of us across South Africa who tell our story of how we have benefitted from this programme, the more likely we are to secure longer-term funding for the programme.