Youth@worK is an accredited Youth Employment Service (YES) Implementation Partner. In this capacity we recruit and  select YES candidates from local communities, as well as vet and select workplaces within these communities to host our young employees. It is very important for us to choose workplace mentors who will manage the daily oversight necessary for first-time employees. These mentors support the learning and instill valuable work ethics for first-time job seekers at the start of their working career.  At the beginning of the work placements, mentors agree with the YES employees on specific workplace skills that will be focused on – these may include skills in the area of communication, computer, leadership, business and/or occupational/technical skills. Workplace mentors play an important role in the overall monitoring & evaluation over the 12 months – key indicators that are tracked include punctuality, teamwork, alignment to organisational values and proactiveness to participate in non-work activities. 

YES employees also actively build important work life skills and can gain additional qualifications through various e-learning platforms accessible from the youth’s smartphone, which is supplied by YES at the start of the programme.

Youth work placements are within either primary or secondary schools or institutions of higher learning. This does not mean however that the workplace experience relates only to the education sector. The programme offers a number areas of work experience, and all the skills learned are transferable and essential for South African youth to have in their toolkit to successfully navigate the fourth industrial revolution. Creativity, resilience, flexibility, technology and innovation are key skills required for youth to survive and thrive in the future. The education sector provides an excellent environment for learning and honing these skills. The aim of this work placement programme is for youth to gain practical experience in a working environment.  There are no set learning programmes, common areas of learning include problem-solving skills, decision-making, communication, business etiquette, customer service, and demonstrating responsibility and accountability.


Area of Work Experience

Services & Business Administration 

Office Administrator


Early Childhood Development (ECD) Practitioner

Information Technology

Technical and System Support, Click Facilitator

Sport and Recreation     

Coach, Sport and Events Coordinator

The exit strategy of the programme is as important as the onboarding process. It is our aim to ensure that each young person has clear direction as to his/her future plans – ranging from continued employment in the education sector; pursuing teaching or other qualifications; to starting their own community-based business ventures within an incubation environment.

Many companies offer work placement opportunities within their organisations, and generally HR and Line Managers manage this in-house placement process on a day-to-day basis in addition to their regular workload. Our services are designed to allow companies to offer this kind of opportunity to the youth of South Africa by funding the programme, gaining YES B-BBEE benefits, and entrusting the hosting of first-time employees to us.  For more information on how to get your company involved – please do contact Erica Kempken via

Meet the Team


Erica Kempken


Erica Kempken, a teacher by profession, has great empathy and insight into the current state of South African schools. She is seeking long-term sustainable solutions for change that are supported by legislation and are funded by civil society, business and government alike. Erica has mobilised funding to use schools as workplaces for youth to enhance the quality of Education.

Siyafunda Tours was established in 2005 when Erica Kempken, as founding member, recognised that schools could offer a platform from which to develop domestic tourism through educationally aligned school tours. The company’s vision and purpose have since evolved to implementing learnerships and youth placements at selected Partner for Possibility (PfP) Schools. The resulting positive impact on the schools as well as young people’s lives have led to the renaming of the company to Youth@worK to continue and expand the placement of youth into the education sector.


Jacinta Tshidzumba


Jacinta Tshidzumba has more than 20 years of experience in the skills development sector with a solid track record in managing multi-site programmes across both private and public sectors. Her strong project management skills ensure that our programmes are delivered on time within budget. The business model for our youth placement programme allows for scalability across sectors and aims to support the empowerment of young job seekers and to build an entry-level South Africa workforce.
Jacinta is an experienced operations manager & entrepreneur, with more than two decades of experience in various B2B business start-ups which grew into sustainable businesses. In her capacity as a business coach and enterprise development advisor she is always on the lookout for young people with entrepreneurial ideas and to assist them to test their business ideas, and grow their businesses systematically.



Khutjo Moela


Khutjo Moela has joined the Youth@worK team in the capacity of communication & marketing coordinator. In addition to his various ICT qualifications, he has previously walked the youth work placement journey himself, as he did a Learnership in 2018. He is able to assist YES employees competently with their queries, while drawing on his experiences of having completed a youth work placement. His calm demeanour, attention to detail and IT Expertise are a great asset to the team.