How promotional marketing unlocks youth employment potential

Unlocking South Africa’s Potential: How Promotional Marketing Ignites South African Youth Careers through Part-Time Work.


There seems little to celebrate this Youth Month. According to StatsSA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released last month, youth unemployment increased to 46.5% in the first quarter of 2023 (13.6% higher than the national average).


This would only be a sad inditement if it weren’t for the fact that almost two thirds (62.1%) of South Africa’s population is under 35 years old. Our young people are both the workforce and consumers powering society and the economy, today and into the future. Forget infrastructure collapse and corruption, youth unemployment is the single biggest threat facing the nation.  

The scale of the crisis means government alone cannot hope to address this. And despite laudable partnerships with labour and the private sector including the YES4YOUTH initiative, there are only so many permanent opportunities that business can create in a constrained economy. 


Part-time work, which not only provides financial gain but equips young people with invaluable skills and experience, is one avenue of opportunity creation that can be leveraged to shape and launch careers. 


Against this backdrop, promotional marketing emerges as a potential catalyst to bridge the gap between South Africa’s unemployed youth and promising career prospects. By harnessing the power of part-time promotional work, Tradeway Promotions is at the forefront of the fight against youth unemployment, igniting the potential of South Africa’s vibrant youth population. 


In the last financial year alone we, along with our clients, invested in over 15,700 young promotors and brand ambassadors. We are also a proud YES4YOUTH implementation partner and, in the last 4 years, have had the privilege of hosting over 500 interns, many of whom were absorbed into full-time employment after their internships. 

This article delves into the profound potential impact of part-time work on South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis. We’ll explore the transformative power of promotional marketing, and examine how this dynamic combination can unleash a wave of opportunity and empower South Africa’s youth. 

The Youth Unemployment Crisis in South Africa: An Urgent Call for Action

It’s essential to understand the root causes and consequences of this crisis, highlighting the urgent need for collective action to address the issue and pave the way for a brighter future. 


Factors such as a lack of job creation, inadequate skills development, and a mismatch between education and industry requirements contribute to this crisis. The repercussions are far-reaching, including social unrest, economic instability, and untapped potential. 

By the numbers:

  • Youth unemployment (15-34 years) increased by 1.1% to 46.5% (13.6% higher than the national average). 
  • 62.1% of youth aged 15-24 are unemployed. 
  • 40.7% of youth aged 25-34 are unemployed. 
  • 36,1% of youth aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training (NEET). 
  • 62.1% of total population is below 35 years of age (34% aged 15-34) 

Social exclusion, substance abuse, civil unrest and declining mental health are well documented consequences of long-term unemployment, to say nothing of the growing skills gap that only fuels unemployability. Not only can the unemployed not participate in the economy, but their reliance on welfare is a drain on limited state resources that could otherwise be used to address the root causes of youth unemployment.  


Sadly, the prospects for unemployed youth are self-fulfilling. According to the World Economic Forum, the probability of finding a job declines the longer one is unemployed. In one study, the job-finding rate declined by roughly 50% over an eight-month period.  


It’s crucial to limit the duration of unemployment but, given our constrained economy, it is unrealistic to expect the private sector to accommodate all young people on a permanent basis. And let’s face it, in a state with onerous labour legislation, every permanent appointment represents risk, and when it comes to young people without track records or references, this risk is only amplified. 

Part-Time Work: A Powerful Solution to Combat Youth Unemployment

Part-time work has emerged as a powerful solution to combat youth unemployment in South Africa. By offering flexible employment options, part-time work opens doors for young individuals to gain valuable experience, develop essential skills, obtain references, and earn a living while pursuing further education or exploring different career paths. It serves as a steppingstone towards full-time employment – a bridge, narrowing the gap between academic qualifications and industry demands. 


For corporates, the model means the flexibility essential to survive in the current economic climate – allowing business to scale labour forces according to demand. It also means the chance to upskill more young people, with the added benefit that, when permanent opportunities arise, you have a tried-and-tested talent pool from which to draw. 

Promotional Marketing: Creating Part-Time Opportunities for Youth Employment

Promotional marketing plays a pivotal role in creating part-time work opportunities for South Africa’s youth. Often run on a fixed term of campaign basis, promoting products, services, and events requires a flexible workforce capable of executing targeted promotional campaigns, nationally.  

Presenting a range of opportunities such as brand ambassadors, event coordinators, social media influencers, and sales representatives, promotional marketing allows young individuals to engage directly with customers, develop interpersonal skills, and contribute to the success of promotional campaigns. Furthermore, the exposure to various industries and the ability to work with diverse teams enhances their adaptability and marketability in the job market. 

In exchange, brands leverage the enthusiasm and energy of the youth while simultaneously providing invaluable work experiences.

Overcoming Challenges: Support Systems for Youth in Part-Time Work

While part-time work presents numerous opportunities, it is not without its challenges. Many young individuals are confronted with limited access to information, lack of guidance, and unfair treatment in the workplace. To ensure the success and well-being of youth in part-time work, it is crucial to establish robust support systems. These systems should include mentorship programs, career counselling services, access to resources and training, and the enforcement of fair labour practices. 


This is evident in Tradeway’s success as South Africa’s largest independent promotional marketing agency. We have developed key infrastructure designed to support our extensive network of part-time promotors including dedicated HR/LR, Compliance, Payroll, Training and Recruitment personnel, all underpinned by proprietary trade marketing technology, Promoforce. Promotors are able to view and sign up for campaigns and shifts, check in and out, access important documentation and training material, all from their smart phones.  


This infrastructure means we have been able to scale operations and opportunities, nationally. For promotors, this means access to opportunities and brands when and where it suits them. For our clients, it means access to an extensive talent pool of trained and eager youth ready to represent them in the field.

Sustaining the Momentum: Collaborative Efforts for a Brighter Future

Addressing youth unemployment and promoting sustainable part-time work opportunities require collaboration. In the promotional marketing space, corporates and agencies must work together to create an ecosystem that fosters youth empowerment and provides access to quality part-time work opportunities. Collaborative networks can facilitate knowledge sharing, resource allocation, and the implementation of targeted initiatives aimed at sustainable youth employment. 


Our training methodology not only upskills youth in work readiness, communication and sales and marketing competencies, but also involves the development of campaign and brand specific training material, to ensure that promotors and campaigns are set up for optimal success. As campaign feedback is tracked in real-time, adaptive and corrective training is possible throughout the lifespan of activations. This investment in education and training ensures that youth are equipped with the tools to excel in part-time work and eventually transition into full-time employment. 


South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis requires urgent attention and a multifaceted approach to find sustainable solutions. Part-time work, supported by promotional marketing and robust support systems, presents a powerful opportunity to combat this crisis. By nurturing part-time work opportunities, addressing challenges, and fostering collaborative efforts, we can create a brighter future for South Africa’s youth, unlocking their full potential and contributing to the nation’s overall growth and prosperity. 


At Tradeway, the long-standing partnerships we’ve fostered with leading global brands has proved key to both our success, and that of future generations and the brands we represent. We remain committed to upskilling South Africa’s youth and building brands for a brighter future for us all. 


Contact us today to get involved!  


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