Written by: Ariellah Rosenberg, ORT SA CEO

The challenge of unemployment is one of the reasons ORT’s work in South Africa is so important.

“I’m 29 and I need a job or something that can help me bring income and feed my family. I … am desperately needing some job or internship to support my black family too.”

This is only one of hundreds of messages inundating ORT SA’s FB Messenger on a daily basis. Youth desperately looking for a job to provide for themselves and families with no luck while losing hope and confidence in themselves and the system.

This challenge of unemployment is one of the reasons ORT’s work in South Africa is important. ORT SA, an NGO affiliated to World ORT is celebrating 140 years of impacting lives through education. ORT SA’s mission of making people employable and creating employment opportunities is more pertinent and vital than ever, working in partnerships with government and other NGO’s in combatting the “war on unemployment”.

Recently the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE)

ORT SA CEO addressing the participants

discussed the concerning high rate of unemployment in the country. “Only four out of ten SA adults are employed, compared to six out of ten adults globally. South Africa has the deepest and most persistent crisis of unemployment in the world: only 42 percent of adults work”. Report January 2020, CDE.

Some solutions to increase employment, offered by various experts, such as the change of policies around property, labour and minimal wage require bold steps that may be beyond the NGO’s power to make real change. But there is a role for NGO’s to play in working with government to improve the quality of education and skills development in the country and providing opportunities to create jobs and strengthen small business enterprises.

ORT SA’s partnership with Yes4Youth is one collaborative approach to tackling the problem. The Yes4Youth is a partnership between government and corporates, aiming at placing one million youth in jobs for quality work experiences. Placing youth for a 12-month work experience is more than just providing them with an income for one year. The employed person is equipped with new knowledge, skills, disciplines and capabilities that no schooling would be able to provide. Youth placed in jobs for work experience gain not only knowledge and skills but also confidence and self-reliance that takes them out of this vicious cycle of non-employability.

ORT SA’s programmes for small businesses owners is designed to strengthen them through skills transfer and mentorship. The unemployed youth placed in the SME’s provide a pillar of administrative support that they could not otherwise afford. Should a business absorb this person after the year, it means that the business grew and it is a win-win situation for all.

“I am speechless. And so grateful to ORT SA for the opportunities they have given me,” says Tshepo Moami. “I was always interested in IT and was lucky to be a participant in the ORT SA IT Bridging course in 2018 and graduated with a Cisco IT Essentials certificate. Then they invited me to apply for the ORT SA/Yes 1-year work-experience programme and I was placed with Xpandit, an IT company, which services schools. After completing the year with Xpandit, they offered me a full-time position! Thanks a million to ORT SA. You have changed my life.”

Should you wish to host unemployed youth for one year, contact