Ramaphosa unveils jobs plans for SA youth


FACED with the highest youth unemployment in South Africa’s history, at 64%, the country’s president has announced a raft of measures aimed at getting young people into jobs.

In an address to mark the 45th anniversary of National Youth Day, the day on which SA’s youth took to the streets in protest against apartheid, Ramaphosa said the high unemployment rate was of great concern to the government. “This is something we cannot afford,” Ramaphosa said.

The president launched the Presidential Youth Service, SA Youth Network and mPowa as new measures to add to government initiatives to create jobs for the youth.

Ramaphosa said the new projects would add to existing initiatives from which the SA youth had begun to benefit. This includes the Presidential Employment Stimulus that began in October last year.

He said the Presidential Employment Stimulus was now the largest public employment programme in SA and is the fastest to reach such a large scale.

“In the education sector alone, 320,000 young people have been placed as education assistants and general assistants in 24,000 public schools across the country. Of these, 65 per cent are young women. They are working with our learners and helping to lighten the load for our educators.  Our teachers and principals are telling us that this programme is making a big difference. Many of the participants were unemployed before being given this opportunity.  Now they are earning a living, enabling them to support themselves and their families, and to purchase goods and services that support local economies,” he said.

He said through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, 50,000 subsistence farmers across the country have received input vouchers. Sixty per cent of these farmers are young people, he added.

Ramaphosa said the beneficiaries could use the vouchers to purchase feed, seeds, fertilizer and other goods they need to produce food.

“As part of this programme we brought in 2,000 young agriculture studies graduates to help with beneficiary verification.  For the first time we now have a database of subsistence farmers in South Africa.  The Presidential Employment Stimulus has also supported over 10,000 jobs in business process outsourcing, with most of these jobs going to the youth.  Around 1,800 young people have been given jobs in a number of public works projects including the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme. With funding from the stimulus, 1,200 youth-owned micro enterprises have received support from the National Youth Development Agency,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said another successful programme that continued to create work opportunities for young black South Africans was the Youth Employment Service (YES). He said, YES has, working with corporate partners, created 55 000 work experiences since its inception, injecting R3.1-billion in youth salaries back into the economy.

“In the coming year, YES aims to double this to 100,000 quality work experiences. The Presidential Youth Employment Intervention will build on all of these successes,” the president said.

Ramaphosa said the SA Youth, the national pathway management network, was designed to translate potential into opportunity. He said the initiative brought together eight government departments led by the Department of Employment and Labour, to form a network that will support young people to find pathways into the economy.

The president explained: “We have forged strong partnerships with the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and other organisations to establish this network. Through these partnerships, we have developed an online platform called SAYouth.mobi. I want to make a call to young South Africans to register on SAYouth.mobi.  You can create a profile, view opportunities for learning and earning, and receive support through multiple channels.

“SAYouth.mobi has been zero-rated by all mobile networks so that it can be accessed by young people from anywhere in the country at absolutely no cost.  This will complement our existing efforts to create physical spaces where young people can go to access information, opportunities and support.  This already includes the NYDA centres and will include the 127 labour centres operated by the Department of Labour and Employment in every province.

“SAYouth.mobi is already supporting over 1.4-million young people to access opportunities.

These are young people like Joudon Rooi from Stanford in the Western Cape and over 132,000 other young people who found opportunities as education and school assistants through SA Youth. They include Mthandazo Shabalala from Roodeport, who participated in the Youth Employment Service programme to access work experience and who was able to secure a job.

“Then there is Segametsi Songwane from Hammanskraal who successfully started a small business with support from the National Youth Development Agency, and Nomzamo Xulu from KwaZulu-Natal, a young entrepreneur who received support to start and grow her own catering business. In the next five years we hope to add another 3 million young people to this network.  This ambition represents the scale and impact that we can achieve through effective public- private partnerships.”

Ramaphosa said mPowa was a new platform in the SA Youth network developed by the mLab in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation. It aims to provide young work-seekers and entrepreneurs with information about services and support that is available in their area.

He said the platform built on the success of the Youth Explorer, which has gathered and verified data on the services available to young people across the country.

“This year, with the launch of SA Youth, the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention will enter full implementation. We are extending the Basic Education Employment Initiative to support the employment of young people throughout the country – every district and every ward will benefit. We are establishing a Presidential Youth Service that will create opportunities for young people to meaningfully contribute to their communities and develop critical skills to participate effectively in the economy.

“We are currently piloting a new model of skills development where training is linked directly to employment in key growth sectors of our economy. In its first phase, this will create training and job opportunities for young people in digital skills and global business services. This is in addition to the 137,000 learning opportunities that have been created through online courses in digital skills by the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.  The SETAs will be advertising opportunities to undertake learnerships and internships and to access bursaries for further education. This includes opportunities in the chemicals, health and welfare, transport and insurance sectors.

“In the State of the Nation Address this year, I reported that the Department of Small Business Development and the National Youth Development Agency had achieved their target of supporting 1,000 youth-owned enterprises in 100 days, particularly in the township and rural economy.  This target has now been expanded to reach 15,000 young entrepreneurs, through a Challenge Fund supported by the department, the NYDA and the European Union.  Through these programmes, we will create real opportunities for young people to grow their skills and earn an income.

“SAYouth.mobi is the door through which young people can view and access these opportunities. The challenge of youth unemployment can seem insurmountable. However, we know what we need to do to address it.  We know that by providing young people with opportunities for work experience, by supporting them to start and grow their own businesses, by fixing our skills development system and by creating opportunities for work that serves the common good, we can make inroads into this challenge.”

Ramaphosa said SA’s goal is to become a country where every young person had a place to go – whether in further education and training, in skills development, in work experience, in entrepreneurship, in youth service or in formal employment.


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