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9 December 2022
UWC, Presidency, DHET and USAf prepare graduates for the workplace
Efforts to help reduce unemployment among university graduates have recently been highlighted at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

The institution was one of the 26 universities participating in the Presidential Youth Employment Stimulus (PYES) programme aimed at providing temporary employment to young graduates. The successes of the six-month programme were celebrated on campus recently as more than 60 active participants completed the programme successfully.
A ceremony to mark the completion was held with the Executive Director of Human Resources, Mr Meko Magida (pictured), who congratulated participants and encouraged them to utilise their new-found skills in the workplace.
"It's an important day for you and a significant day for the UWC. It's momentous for this country that we celebrate people who have completed a programme that has provided them with skills and knowledge and creates networks so that they can go out there and set themselves up," said Mr Magida.
He asked the interns to draw lessons from a unique animal, a Lion, referred to as the "King of the Jungle." He said a lion is an animal that every leader and aspiring leader should strive to learn from. A lion is born to hunt and rule, making it struggle for survival. In the same way, interns should set goals to survive in a competitive world. One needs to work hard for those goals and learn the lessons throughout the journey.

The programme kicked off in June this year, and successful candidates were placed in their specific fields of study. Cherné Jansen (pictured), a law graduate, completed her six-month stint at The Dullah Omar Institute. The ambitious future lawyer believes she is now well-equipped for the working world.
"There's a lot of discipline in coming and doing the work you are told to do and showing up in good spirits, so that was also very nice. Overall that work experience you can put on a CV so that it can be noted, and I also built references, and now I have peers of other interns that also worked here - like a network of supporting each other after this," said Jansen.
Youth unemployment remains high in South Africa. According to Stats SA, current university graduate unemployment in the third quarter of last year reached 12.5 percent. According to the Presidency, the rationale behind PYES was also to mitigate economic challenges caused by COVID-19. The programme leader for The Presidential Employment Stimulus, Dr Kate Philip, said that the project has created one million opportunities, and they are fighting for survival due to other pressures on the national treasury. Dr Philip has encouraged participants to pay their experience forward. 
"What you do need to understand is the context. We are in a situation of real pressure on our national budgets. Just think about Eskom, ports, food security, social relief of distress grants, and potholes; these are all competing priorities. With this programme, we are not playing offense and putting demands on the table to double it. Right now, we are playing defense. This programme is funded for one more cycle; it's not funded beyond that, and if we want it to be funded beyond that, we have to put up a fight. I can assure you at the national level, we are doing exactly that, but for us to win that argument, so that other young people like yourself have this fabulous opportunity, we need to show that this programme makes a difference," said Philip.
Dr Kate Phillip and Mrs Nodumo Sidwaba

Three thousand positions were made available across the 26 universities via the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) programme, with participants receiving a R5000 monthly stipend. The original intake at UWC was 101. At the programme's conclusion (by the end of November 2022), a total of 64 interns completed and graduated through this programme. During its last days, the interns were exposed to industry executives as part of their preparation for the world of work. In addition, three seminars hosted by executives of ITHUBA (Lotto operator), the Nedbank Group and Glacier by SANLAM provided the interns with life-changing skills and tips for applying for employment.

On the last day of the programme, the HR Department hosted a "Managing my Career" workshop. In addition, a farewell event was hosted by the HR Executive and Dr Kate Phillip, the PES Programme Lead from the Presidency's office. 
"We are recruiting the next cohort of interns with 1 March 2023 as the start date. There is a request for 135 interns across the various Faculties and Divisions. On behalf of the HR Department, I express my sincerest gratitude to all who supported this programme during its six months," said UWC's PES project manager and HR Manager, Mrs Nodumo Sidwaba.
The farewell event for UWC's 2022 cohort of PYES interns was held at UWC's School of Public Health.
For more images of the PYES farewell (all by Ruvan Boshoff/UWC Media), see the gallery below: