JOHANNESBURG – With more than half of young people in the country unemployed, President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday evening said government within the next decade would create no fewer than two million new jobs for the youth.
Ramaphosa reiterated his remarks at this year’s Youth Celebration in Polokwane that unemployment among young people was a national crisis.
He said this required urgent interventions, saying the new jobs would be created through a comprehensive plan to be coordinated from the Presidency.
“The fact that the unemployment rate among young South Africans is more than 50% is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions. And because more young people are entering the labour force every year, the economy needs to create far more jobs for youth than it currently does merely to keep the youth unemployment rate steady,” Ramaphosa said.
“The brutal reality is that when it comes to youth unemployment, we have to run just to remain in the same place.”
The president said this plan to create two million jobs for the youth would work across government departments and all three tiers of government, working in partnership with the private sector.
“We are already working with the private sector to create pathways into work for young people through scaling up existing pathway management networks. These are networks that allow young people who opt-in increased visibility, network support, and opportunities to signal their availability for jobs and self-employment.
“They make sure that youth from poorer households – and young women in particular – are empowered to take up the new opportunities,” he said.
EPWP, YES, NYSP TO CONTINUE
Ramaphosa also said government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the Youth Employment Service (YES), and the National Youth Service (NYSP) would continue in helping to reduce the rate of joblessness among the youth.
The president said the EPWP would be intensified in areas like maintenance, clearing vegetation, plugging water leaks and constructing roads.
He said the NYSP would be expanded to take on 50,000 young people a year. The initiative is aimed at engaging young people in community service activities while providing them with the necessary skills to get access to opportunities to generate income.
Ramaphosa said the YES initiative would be expanded to facilitate work-based internships for graduates of technical and vocational programmes. The initiative was launched in March last year in partnership with business, labour and civil society to help more than one million youth to get paid work experience over the next three years.
Among other measures mentioned by the president to stimulate youth unemployment were absorbing them into sectors where the demand for jobs was growing.
“These sectors include global business processing services, agricultural value chains, technical installation, repair and maintenance and new opportunities provided through the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution. Government will also ensure that young people are employed in social economy jobs such as early childhood development and health care,” he said.
Ramaphosa also said his administration would support tech-enabled platforms for self-employed youth in rural areas and townships. He added that small business incubation centres would be rolled out to provide youth-driven start-ups with financial and technical advice.