Addressing Youth Unemployment from HR Point of View by Maphutha Diaz

Life after graduation by Jacques van Zyl
June 12, 2019
South Africa Embracing the Future: Youth Empowerment by Kgomotso Mopalami
June 28, 2019

1. Introduction

During the first quarter of 2019, there were approximately 10,3 million persons in the 15–24 age category. Furthermore, between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, the percentage of young persons in the 15–24 years age category who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) increased by 2,1 percentage points to a shocking 33,2% (3,4 million). Even more alarming is that , of the 20,3 million young people in the age group 15-34 years, 40,7% of these were not in employment, education or training (NEET), translating to an increase of 1,8 percentage points in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2018 (, accessed 14 May 2019).

The shocking statistics above provides a gloomy picture about the future of our youth: The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that globally, approximately 71 million youth in the 15–24-year age group were unemployed in 2017, with many of them facing the reality of long-term unemployment. From a South African perspective, as described by South Africa‘s National Youth Commission Act, of 1996,youth is defined as those from  14-35 years of age (

The above reality requires various strategies and serious commitment from the government and its social partners at preferably, the level of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). However, this does not in any way replace HR’s role and duty to society. 

2. The Role of HR in Addressing Youth Unemployment

The SABPP regards duty to societyas one of the 4 Pillars of our profession and defines it as delivering high quality HR work, that has an impact on society and being custodians for good people practices in organisations. Also, ensuring that people are treated fairly and with respect and dignity, driving transformation, skills development and sustainability. For purposes of this article, three relevant outputs of this competency (duty to society) are:

  • HR work and betterment of society are clearly linked
  • Achievement of organisational transformation and employment equity
  • Personal community service

The above role towards society is in line with one of the fundamental principles of the King Code on corporate governance, namely, the triple-bottom line, which is a framework or theory that recommends that companies commit to focus on social and environmental matters concerning business, just as they would on profits. 

One way of addressing the above-mentioned youth unemployment is through nurturing the unemployed youth through formal exposure of these in workplaces, and SABPP has subsequently developed the HR Candidate Programme for that. 

3. The SABPP HR Candidate Programme

The purpose of the HR Candidate Programme (the Programme) is to develop the skills of HR Candidates in line with the South African National HR Competency Model (the Model) against the 4 Pillars; the 5 core competencies; and the 5 HR Capabilities. The Programme allows Candidates to translate previously obtained theoretical and academic knowledge into activities related to various professional practices under the guidance of a registered SABPP Supervisor, in order to obtain registration on the SABPP professional ladder as an HR Technician/ Associate/ Professional, depending on qualifications and performance against the identified HR Competencies, Capabilities and Pillars as reflected inthe Model below.


3.1. The Various Aspects of the HR Candidate Programme

3.1.1    Candidate Entry Points

For purposes of the programme, a Candidate is someone who has an HR qualification but does not otherwise qualify for registration on the SABPP professional ladder, due to lack of enough experience as required for the different levels on the ladder as reflected below:

The Programme also makes provision for other categories of people who may enrol in the Candidate programme such as: 

  • Unemployed youth graduates, provided they can be placed in a workplace in HR, for training purposes  
  • Candidates who are currently registered at HR Professional or below as specialists, but who wish to obtain generalist skills
  • Candidates who are currently studying part-time towards an appropriate qualification with a registered institution and do not otherwise qualify for registration on the professional ladder but must be currently working in an HR related role.

3.1.2    Role and Responsibility of Candidate

This is a learner-driven process, and therefore, the onus is on the Candidates to complete their given Development Guidelines within the time frames agreed with their Supervisors. Candidates need to ensure that the service they provide to their current employer or the diligence applied to their current studies does not deteriorate as a result of their participation in the Programme. 

In addition, candidates need to ensure that they attend all Programme workshops / meetings during their candidacy and need to ensure that all work produced for evaluation is of a high standard and authentic (their own work). 

3.1.3    Role and Responsibility of Supervisor

Each Candidate is allocated a Supervisor who should support and guide a Candidate/s through the Programme, but he/she is also responsible for assessing competence as the Programme progresses. 

The criteria for the role of Candidate Supervisor is as follows:

Skills and QualificationsBehavioural Dimensions
– Registered with the SABPP at HR Professional level
or above as a Generalist (Supervisors with a Specialist registration may assist with
Candidates wanting to register for the same specialisation) 
– Assessor Qualification (Assessor Registration preferred) 
– Experience in Coaching & Supervising
– Attention to Detail Emotional
– Maturity
– Judgement – Objective and Fair 
– Empathetic & Supportive 
– Skilled Networker 

3.1.4    Role and Responsibility of the Company 

The Company commits to providing the Candidate with work exposure and opportunities as stipulated in the relevant development guideline within a reasonable timeframe; to providing the Candidate with regular performance and development feedback; and sign off the Employer’s Agreement which includes the above points.

3.1.5    Development and Evaluation Process

The Supervisor and Candidate will have an initial meeting to plan the development process, which will depend to what extent the Candidate has already acquired some of the target competencies. Thereafter, the Candidates will meet in group sessions 3 times a year for development sessions.  The groups will be assembled by the Professional Services Department of the SABPP, in consultation with the Supervisors. 

3.1.6    Candidate Programme Content 

The SA HR Competency Model forms the basis of the skills that HR practitioners need to have mastered to progress at each level of the HR professional ladder. Development guidelines have been produced for each element of the Competency Model aligned to the appropriate level of work. A 360-degree assessment will be conducted at the commencement of the Programme and again at the completion of the Programme to ensure that the Pillars and the Core Competencies have been embraced and applied by the Candidate. The Table below provides an overview of the content of the Candidate Programme as well as the suggested time frames. It is important that the Candidate receives an equal amount of exposure in all the elements of the Candidate Programme.

Programme ElementSuggestedTime Frames(Weeks)
360º survey 
Meeting with Supervisor  
1. Pillar 1 – Duty to Society  
2. Pillar 2 – Ethics 
3. Pillar 3 – Professionalism  
4. Pillar 4 – HR & Business Knowledge  
5. Core Competency 1 – Leadership & Personal Credibility  
6. Core Competency 2 – Architect of Organisational Capability  
7. Core Competency 3 – Solution Creation and Implementation  
8. Core Competency 4 – Interpersonal and Communication  
9. Core Competency 5 – Citizenship for the Future  
10. HR Capability 1 – Strategy  
11. HR Capability 2 – Talent Management 
12. HR Capability 3 – Governance, Risk & Compliance  
13. HR Capability 4 – Analytics & Measurement 
14. HR Capability 5 – HR Service Delivery  
15. HR Function 1 – Workforce Planning & Staffing
16. HR Function 2 – Learning & Development  
17. HR Function 3 – Performance Improvement & Management  
18. HR Function 4 – Rewards Management 
19. HR Function 5 – Wellness

4. Partnerships with Companies

The nurturing of particularly unemployed HR graduates is a value adding duty to society and an imperative of HR professionals and companies. We call upon companies and our members to join efforts and partner the SABPP in order to address the critical and dire situation of the unemployed youth presented above

By Maphutha Diaz
SABPP: Head of Standards, HR Candidate Programme and Projects