Author: Craig Gibson, Chief Commercial Officer, Webhelp

South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. It is estimated that 40 percent of this generation will never secure stable work. Webhelp’s Chief Commercial Officer, Craig Gibson, discusses Impact Sourcing and our successful partnership with Harambee.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator received the 2019 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Hear Cathy Kalamaras talk about Webhelp’s  experience of working with Harambee.

South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. A lack of information, skills, networks, and social capital, leaves many young people discouraged and excluded. It is estimated that 40 percent of this generation will never secure stable work, despite a large investment in skills training by South Africa’s government and private sector. Yet employers say they struggle to find work-ready candidates and lack the ability to effectively evaluate these young job seekers.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator is tackling the issue head on, and building scalable solutions for the youth labour market. Its ‘matching tools’ and real-world training methodology help employers quickly and reliably gauge work-readiness and suitability, and are delivering a host recruitment and retention benefits.

Both the public and private sectors see Harambee as leading experts in the dynamics of the South African labour market; so much so that the Gauteng Province – including Johannesburg and Pretoria – has institutionalised the work of Harambee, and now relies on its platform and labour market solutions to address the youth unemployment crisis. In short, governments are seeing the value of youth-focused solutions, and businesses are deriving value from a population that had long been invisible to them.

I’m delighted that the great work that Harambee does has been recognised by the prestigious Skoll Foundation, which views its innovative model to accelerate youth employment as leading-edge, and an African solution to one of the world’s most pressing problems. And as a South African, I take particular pride in our partnership with Harambee. Together, we are helping unemployed young people – who would not usually have an opportunity to enter formal employment – access rewarding careers in an incredibly important sector for South Africa. Not only is this great for the individuals and the local community, but as a business, we are seeing an incredible benefits.

Thanks to Harambee’s scientific matching tools and behavioral readiness programmes, we have been able to build a sector specific competence profile to recruit young people who are a good match for our business and our clients. Not only does this make the hiring process easier, it also reduces the quality and cost risks associated with hiring the wrong people. We’re seeing an incredible impact on loyalty and performance; employee retention is at 90%, and the pass rate for induction training is 100%. Furthermore, the speed to productivity of our Harambee employees matches that of more experienced staff – likely due to their willingness to learn, and put in the extra time. It’s a fantastic story for us all.

Discover more about South Africa in our recent blog post SOUTH AFRICA AND INDIA BOTH CHOSEN AS CX LEADERS BY RYAN STRATEGIC ADVISORY, and get a flavour of the calibre of our Impact Sourcing colleagues, as well as the impact rewarding employment is having on their lives, by reading their stories:


Impact worker: Morgan Wagner (Webhelp South Africa)

Impact worker: Celine Walters (Webhelp South Africa)

To conclude, Harambee accounts for a high proportion of our overall hires in South Africa and has been instrumental in creating a link between Webhelp and talented young people. Our partnership is also helping us to embed a diverse and inclusive workplace representative of South Africa’s demographics, and this is absolutely fundamental to Webhelp South Africa’s responsible and sustainable growth strategy.

How important is it to strike the right balance between human talent and AI and Automation for CX? Is AI positive for Customer Service? Webhelp recently published a report on the future of automation and commissioned the YouGov survey to find out what people really think about customer experience or AI strategy.

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