Cape Town - Cosatu has welcomed President Jacob Zuma's announcement that government was looking at subsidising the cost of hiring younger workers to encourage firms to take on inexperienced staff.
"We are very pleased to hear this commitment because we believe it will go a long way to speed up the creation of work opportunities we have been talking about," said the trade union federation's President Sdumo Dlamini. He said Cosatu had always called for stronger intervention to assist unskilled young people to penetrate the job market.
Zuma's address has been met with mixed reaction from leaders of various political parties.
"The president is in line with the priorities that we have outlined for ourselves and those priorities when you speak about them you speak about the youth because we are a youthful country, a country full of young people who are in the majority are unemployed," said ANC Youth League President Julius Malema.
He said the league would carefully monitor the job opportunities created by Zuma's administration as to whether these were sustainable opportunities which also benefited youth.
SACP deputy secretary general Jeremy Cronin welcomed Zuma's speech: "I think at the heart of the speech was an emphasis on the key priorities facing the majority of South Africans: jobs, crime, corruption, health and rural development".
He commended the proposal by government to consider subsidizing the wages of youths.
"There is something like 2.5 million young people that are neither in school or in education and training who are potentially a lost generation, so that's a massive long-term and medium-term crisis for our country and we really need to deploy all the resources we can to address this issue, so one looks forward to seeing the further details," said Cronin.
For his part, DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip criticised Zuma's speech, but commended the President on the proposal to subsidise the wages of youth workers, pointing out that this was in fact a DA policy.
Trollip said Zuma's speech was disappointing, saying the president had not created enough jobs and said he and presidents before him should have already had a performance system in place.
Freedom Front leader Pieter Mulder said there was still a lack of specific details on how government planned to improve teacher training and quality of education especially at primary level. "But also to be positive there are specific achievements that the president has highlighted especially on stamping out corruption in the public service," said Mulder.
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the 480 000 work opportunities that Zuma mentioned in his speech was "misleading" as these were only temporary jobs.