South Africa’s sky-high youth unemployment crisis seems like an insurmountable challenge but that’s completely the wrong attitude, says Adeshni Sewbaran, Franchise Director at Supa Quick. “We’ve been working with the Government’s Yes4Youth programme for some years, and we are encouraged by the calibre of young people there out there—it’s all about giving them the opportunity to gain the experience needed to enter the job market. That’s the big plus of Yes4Youth; work experience unlocks many doors.”
Thabo Zulu is a former Yes4Youth intern. He joined Supa Quick in March 2021 as a graduate. Later that same year, he was promoted to fleet coordinator, a position he still holds.
He says that moving into a permanent role was a big step—and not just because it meant more money! “The biggest change I’ve had to deal with is the amount of accountability I have to take. Being the first point of contact for the channel as well as the fleet clients comes with its own pressure,” he says. “It took a while to adjust but with the support of my manager and team I’ve managed to get there.”
Being in a permanent position also brings with it a certain sense of freedom—something Zulu finds very enjoyable. He values being able to make suggestions on how to improve the business, and this in turn means he needs to broaden his view to understand how all the various parts of the business fit together.
“I’ve really had to expand my thinking and how I approach things,” he says.
Of course, as in any job, he has had to learn about the product—in this case, tyres. He was surprised to learn that tyres have expiry dates and can’t just sit on a shelf forever. Learning about the different types of tyres is also an ongoing project; “When I came to the company, I thought a tyre was just a tyre,” he quips.
Asked what advice he would give to people on the Yes4Youth programme, Zulu says that most important thing to keep on learning as much as possible. “There’s no skill not worth acquiring,” he says. “Build up your network by connecting with everybody you encounter. Most important of all, realise that that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes—just don’t let them define you (and don’t keep making the same ones!)”
Having successfully made the jump from intern to permanent employee, Zulu wants to acquire his CIMA designation as soon as he can to position himself to build a career in finance. In the long term, he has a big vision: to be recognised as the one of the best business minds to come out of Africa.
It’s a big vision, to be sure, but what’s important is that Yes4Youth gave him the work experience he needed.