Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President
The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Wednesday pledged to promote youth employment in a focused and practical manner.
Ramaphosa told MPs while delivering the 2019/2020 budget for the Presidency.
“We will be bringing the weight of the Presidency behind the efforts of national and provincial departments, local governments as well as business,” Ramaphosa said.
Young people in South Africa comprise more than 63 per cent of the ranks of the unemployed, a devastating indictment for any country, Ramaphosa said.
The youth aged 15-24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55.2 in the first quarter of 2019.
The unemployment for all age groups stood at 27.6 per cent, according to Statistics South Africa.
A number of unemployed youth have succumbed to drugs, crime and other social ills as a result of frustration arising out of poverty and structural unemployment, according to Ramaphosa.
The Presidency has provided start-up financing to more than 6,000 youth-led businesses, and helped create more than 18,000 new jobs, while close to 400,000 young people have received training in various spheres.
A coordinated plan will be rolled out soon across the government with private sector partnership, according to Ramaphosa.
The plan incorporates the provision of workplace opportunities, the Skills Education Training Authorities (SETA), as well as the government’s Jobs Fund, according to the president.
It is inclusive because it involves working with institutions of higher learning such as technical vocational education and training (TVET) schools, universities and colleges, and this by necessity includes a prioritisation of critical skills training, Ramaphosa said.
By doing so, pathways are being created not just for young people to obtain gainful employment in the formal economy, but to enable them to be self-employed as well, he said.
“We want to see young people trained as language interpreters so that when a million Chinese tourists land on our shores, they can have guides, who speack their language,” said Ramaphosa.
In his State of the Nation Address in June, the president promised to bring more Chinese tourists to South Africa by relaxing visa regulations.
Currently less than 100,000 Chinese tourists visit South Africa annually mainly due to visa restrictions.
In his Wednesday speech, Ramaphosa stressed the “critical role” of the private sector in facilitating youth employment, and most importantly, by following the government’s lead and doing away with the onerous barrier of work experience.
More advantage should also be taken of the Employee Tax Incentive that is a win-win situation for both employers and young applicants, Ramaphosa said.