The support of big corporates (most recently MTN) is essential to the ambitious objective of the Youth Employment Service (Yes) initiative launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa, drawing 1-million young black interns into the workforce over the next three years. But it’s the unsung potential of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), many of which are already employing and developing youth skills, that holds the golden ticket to growing critical jobs. Frustratingly, small, medium and micro-enterprises continue to be unduly hindered by compliance and regulatory obstacles that restrict their full contribution to inclusive growth. For Yes to truly succeed — as it must — in attracting and retaining the hopes and aspirations of unemployed youth, the government needs to support and incentivise business participation. This should start with amending the black economic empowerment (BEE) codes and cutting red tape. They might also include preferential-bidder status for government tenders, or a s...

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