South Africa faces many challenges, not the least of which is the triple threat of high unemployment, a lack of skills and the urgent requirement for training and upliftment. This is particularly important when one realises that the nation’s youth, which represents the future of the country, has been especially hard-hit by the job shortage.
KFC South Africa, which celebrates 50 years in the country this year, recognises the importance of a clear focus on providing training and upliftment programmes to disadvantaged communities. More than this, explains Akhona Qengqe, Chief People Officer at KFC Africa, it is especially important as South Africa celebrates Youth Month in June that we highlight programmes designed to help overcome the many challenges faced by the youth.
“To this end, KFC has launched a programme designed to enable individuals from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to gain access to quality education and employment opportunities, through the brand,” says Qengqe.
She points out that focusing on the youth is critical, as the most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) from Stats SA indicates that the official unemployment rate was 32,6%. However, the rate for those aged 15 – 34 years was actually 46,3%, and if kept only to the age bracket 15–24, unemployment was at a massive 63%, irrespective of education level.
“With such statistics in mind, KFC is proud to have launched its very own Learnership Programme. In its initial phase, 100 youngsters from our communities and from previously disadvantaged backgrounds will be employed by KFC for a 12-month period, after which they will receive a qualification,” she says.
“This is exactly the kind of win-win scenario that will help reduce unemployment, provide for a brighter future for the next generation and ensure KFC remains a market leader. After all, these learnerships ensure the youth involved earn a salary, are upskilled as they go and receive training and a certification, making them more employable in the future. At the same time, KFC continues to give back– creating opportunities internally and providing the much-needed experience for the broader job market.”
Qengqe notes that this is a continuation of KFC’s ongoing commitment to investing in youth development across every level of the business. This approach encompasses the company’s Add Hope initiative, which raises money to provide over 150 000 children with the vital nutrition needed to improve their concentration and focus in the classroom.
“Similarly, the inaugural KFC Ikusasa Lethu – which means for our future in isiZulu – the scholarship programme is now officially underway. Currently assisting 25 pupils, this offering provides access to quality education for deserving learners whose parents either work for a KFC restaurant, or who are among the KFC Add Hope beneficiaries across South Africa.”
And it all begins, she adds, with the focus on KFC Mini-Cricket, which is not only healthy exercise for young children, but also teaches them life skills, helps them learn teamwork and offers the opportunity to enjoy sport from a young age.
“Our current Fast Food Certificate Programme offers those involved a 12-month paid contract, with the opportunity for permanent employment, where requirements allow. Presently underway in the Free State and the Northern Cape, the project is expected to achieve even greater heights with a number of KFC’s national franchise partners coming onboard.”
“Ultimately, this programme aims to provide previously disadvantaged youth with development opportunities that match the skills requirement for employment, along with a certification to back this up. More than this, we expect this programme to play its part in broadening diversity and inclusion, creating additional job opportunities and helping to solve team turnover by building capacity and creating a larger pool of talent for the future,” she concludes.