President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated the launch of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention Programme in his weekly column to the nation on Monday, emphasising the need for government to ensure that South Africa’s youth participates in the country’s economy meaningfully, either formally or through self-employment.
He explained that the national programme would set out priority actions to address youth unemployment, and included a national pathway management network that matched candidates with work opportunities, giving opportunities to all.
Ramaphosa said he had the privilege of interacting with a group of dynamic young people at an intergenerational dialogue convened by the National Youth Development Agency before his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) last week, in which access to employment and opportunities dominated the agenda.
“The participants in the dialogue welcomed the fact that the issue of youth employment was receiving attention at the highest levels of government. But the refrain was familiar: they were ready and able to contribute to the economy in various ways, including as entrepreneurs, but bureaucratic red tape and lack of funding prevents them from doing so,” Ramaphosa revealed.
The programme will develop specialised short focused courses for skills that employers are actively seeking, and which government hopes will eradicate the mismatch between the existing educational, training and development programmes and the requirements of the economy.
He revealed that an agriculture programme was underway in the Free State.
Ramaphosa said it was exciting to gain insight into the struggles and triumphs of the youth, as well as hear their vision for what could be done to improve the country.
He went on to explain that many young people wanted to start their own businesses, adding that technical skills which could help them were lacking.
He said government’s intervention would help grow young entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for them to give back to their communities.
Ramaphosa also reiterated the pledge that government will set aside 1% of the national budget for a youth employment initiative, which would include a number of programmes and projects designed to address youth unemployment.
“The youth of our country clearly see this as a land of opportunity and promise, despite the obstacles they encounter. In the past week alone I have met several young South Africans who make me proud of just how far we have come and what we have achieved,” he stated.
He called for partnerships between government, business, labour and civil society to help tackle youth unemployment and ensure that South Africa’s youth do not become despondent.
“I am confident that the actions we outlined in the SoNA will represent a new frontier for youth development,” Ramaphosa explained.