Government determined to tackle pressing issue of youth unemployment

Thursday, February 8, 2024

As the country marks 30 years of democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated government's commitment to tackling the pressing issue of youth unemployment. 

Delivering the final State of the Nation Address (SONA) for the sixth administration, President Ramaphosa emphasised that government is determined to take immediate action in providing employment opportunities for young individuals, underscoring the urgency of addressing this crucial challenge.

“For despite the remarkable achievements of the last 30 years, many of democracy’s children still face great challenges. Millions of young people aged 15 to 24 years are currently not in employment, education or training.

“There are many who have a matric, a diploma or a degree who cannot find a job, or do not have the means to start a business. While economic growth is essential to reduce unemployment, we cannot wait to provide the work that many of democracy’s children need,” the President said. 

Despite the challenges, the President highlighted that government has taken steps to address the youth unemployment crisis. 

Three years ago, building on the success of the Expanded Public Works Programme, government launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) as part of government’s response to the pandemic, but its success in enabling employment creation continues to benefit many.

Through this programme, the sixth administration has created more than 1.7 million work and livelihood opportunities. 

Through the stimulus, more than 1 million school assistants were placed in 23 000 schools, providing participants with valuable work experience while improving learning outcomes. 

Through the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI), government has established as a zero-rated platform for unemployed young people to access opportunities for learning and earning. 

Over 4.3 million young people are now engaged on the network and 1.6 million have so far secured opportunities. 

The President added that working together with the National Youth Development Agency, they have set up a number of initiatives to provide opportunities for young people including the National Youth Service and the Youth Employment Service.

“These programmes matter because work matters to people. The NYDA has played a key role in assisting a number of young people to start their own businesses. Having a job does not only provide an income, it is fundamental to people’s sense of self-worth, dignity, hope, purpose and inclusion. 

“From the depths of deprivation and inequality, we have worked over 30 years to ensure that all South Africans have an equal chance to prosper. 

“It is not enough to recognise the injustices of the past; we need to correct them. We have introduced laws and undertaken programmes to enable black South Africans and women to advance in the workplace, to become owners and managers, to acquire land and build up assets,” the President said. 

The President further highlighted that the proportion of jobs in executive management held by black people increased almost five-fold between 1996 and 2016. –