Government allocates funds to reduce youth unemployment

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Government is scaling up its efforts to tackle the high levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government will increase its financial backing for initiatives to increase employment opportunities.

“We will lead a youth employment initiative, which will be funded by setting aside 1% of the budget to deal with the high levels of youth unemployment,” said the President.

This will be done through “top slicing from the budget”, which requires that government tighten its belt and redirect resources to address the national crisis of youth unemployment.

The Minister of Finance will prioritise this initiative and give specific details when he delivers the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement later this year.

The ring-fencing of funds from the budget is the sixth priority action that government will embark on over the next five years, as part of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.

The announcement of the intervention comes as President Ramaphosa dedicated his fourth SONA to inclusive growth in a bid to close the disparities that continue to exist in the country.

“This State of the Nation Address is about inclusive growth. This year, we fix the fundamentals. We pursue critical areas of growth, and we ensure excellence in planning and execution in government,” said the President.

In South Africa, of the 1.2 million young people who enter the labour market each year, approximately two thirds remain outside of employment, education or training.

A workable plan

Highlighting the other five priorities, President Ramaphosa explained that the solution to the unemployment crisis must be two-pronged – by creating opportunities for youth employment and self-employment.

“Firstly, we are creating pathways for young people into the economy. We are building cutting-edge solutions to reach young people where they are – online, on the phone and in person,” the President said.

This, the President said, will allow the youth access to active support, information and work readiness training to increase their employability and match themselves to opportunities.

“Starting this month, we are launching five prototype sites in five provinces that will grow to a national network, reaching three million young people through multiple channels.

“This will allow them to receive active support, information and work readiness training to increase their employability and match themselves to opportunities,” said the President.

The second priority action will focus on getting young people ready for the future of work; providing shorter, more flexible courses in specific skills that employers in fast-growing sectors need.

Thirdly, government plans to develop new and innovative ways to support youth entrepreneurship and self-employment.

The fourth priority includes scaling up the Youth Employment Service and working with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and the private sector to ensure that more learners receive practical experience in the workplace to complete their training.

As the fifth priority, government will establish the first cohort of a Presidential Youth Service programme that will empower young people and provide opportunities for them to earn an income.

“These six actions will together ensure that every young person in this country has a place to go, that their energy and capabilities are harnessed, and that they can contribute to the growth of their communities and their country,” said the President.

As part of this intervention, the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development will provide grant funding and business support to 1 000 young entrepreneurs in the next 100 days. –