Guidelines for successful internships by Penny Abbott

THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SERVICE: Let us make it work by Penny Abbott
June 6, 2018
Youth Development for the President’s YES Initiative by Amanda Pukwana
June 7, 2018

President Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service (YES) at the end of March 2018. Now with all the emphasis on the youth this Youth Month, the YES will be in the spotlight.  Making internships work is at the heart of the YES programme.  The SABPP’s Internships: Guide for Employers highlights the following key requirements:

  1. South African case law has established that interns are employees for the purposes of labour law because they are rendering personal service and therefore fall within the definition of “employee”. If they are employees, then they must be paid and receive benefits in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, National Minimum Wage Act (once passed and implemented) and any applicable collective agreements.
  2. All interns should receive appropriate employment contracts.
  3. Setting up an internship programme should be approached in the same way as any other project within an organisation. It is very important to align and integrate the internship programme with other relevant HR processes and programmes.
  4. A proper governance structure and monitoring and evaluation process should be put in place for the internship programme.
  5. Careful definition of the tasks to be performed and the development support offered should be done before embarking on the programme.
  6. Structured development for interns should include:
    1. Induction
    2. Clear allocation of tasks and responsibilities, preferably arranged to expose the intern to different situations to allow them to demonstratedifferent abilities
    3. Compilation of a Portfolio of Evidence to allow the intern to take this to future employers
    4. Mentoring and coaching – at least a clear “ownership” of the intern by one allocated person with sufficient seniority of experience to pass on good standards
    5. A “next steps” discussion before the end of the internship.


In addition, the SABPP Guide provides a checklist for the internship, a sample internship agreement, and a sample Portfolio of Evidence (see We would like to encourage HR Managers to ensure that the YES internships are implemented effectively. As Learning and Development champions, HR Professionals are ideally positioned to drive the successful implementation of learnerships in support of the President’s YES initiative. Let us empower the youth with internships.


Dr Penny Abbott is Research and Policy Advisor to SABPP and author of the SABPP Fact Sheet on the Youth Employment Service. This article is an extract from the Fact Sheet.  The full Fact Sheet is available on twitter @SABPP1 or on the website  More information about YES is available on