President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated government’s commitment to intensify the country’s investment drive and removing the red tape that holds back business growth and greater employment creation.
Alongside these measures, President Ramaphosa said that his administration is harnessing the capacity of the state to respond to the immediate needs of young people.
The President was giving a keynote address on Thursday at the Youth Day commemorations in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, held under the theme, “Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”.
This year marks 45 years since the uprising by school students against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction and the violent response of the apartheid government.
As the country rebuilds from the pandemic, the President said that government remains focused on growing the economy and creating jobs.
“Now more than ever, we need young people to rally together to confront and overcome the massive challenges facing our country.
“The fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education or training is the greatest challenge facing our country today,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said the apartheid legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality has, in recent times, been compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest and the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and here in the Eastern Cape.
He said that government remains focused on far-reaching economic reforms and creating conditions for the expansion of businesses throughout the country.
Presidential Youth Employment Intervention
“It is for this reason that we announced the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which is a comprehensive response to the youth unemployment challenge.
“We have also launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which supports public and social employment, and which has created close to 880 000 job opportunities since it was established,” he said.
A flagship initiative of the employment stimulus is the school assistants programme, which has placed 287 000 young people in schools across the country.
The statesman said that these young people are accessing meaningful employment while supporting teachers and contributing to positive learning outcomes in schools.
The latest programme to be launched through the employment stimulus is the Social Employment Fund.
The programme has begun to recruit 50 000 participants in community safety, food and nutrition, digital inclusion, and sports, arts and recreation.
“We have just launched a new dashboard for the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention on the State of the Nation website. Members of the public are now able to track detailed progress with implementation and receive up-to-date information about the intervention,” the President said.
Government’s National Pathway Management Network, which links young people to opportunities for earning, learning and support, has now signed up over 2.9 million users.
The President called young people to join the network through an online platform, SAYouth.mobi, which is data free on all mobile networks.
Since SA Youth was launched, it has placed more than 600 000 young people in earning opportunities and provided support to many more, including interview preparation, job search and entrepreneurship training.
Removing barriers to entering Public Service
As part of government’s commitment to remove the barriers that young people confront when trying to enter the public service, the President said that government is reducing the cost and effort of applying for positions.
“For example, applicants for public service positions are no longer required to submit certified copies of their educational qualifications and other relevant documents.
“This simple change will significantly reduce the cost of applying, improve turnaround times and reduce the administrative burden on departments,” he said.
New Programmes to be launched
At the beginning of next month, the President announced that government will be launching the Future of Work Ambassadors programme.
This programme will focus on improving and modernising the recruitment and retention of youth in the public service.
“We are pursuing innovative new ways of linking learning with earning. For example, the National Skills Fund is pioneering the pay-for-performance skills development model that will create 8 000 job opportunities for young people in digital skills,” he said.
President Ramaphosa further announced the official launch of the revitalised National Youth Service.
Youth service can contribute to civic responsibility, a common identity, development and nation building.
“This is a passionate generation that sees the need in our country and wants to serve those around them.
“There is a great deal of work for them to do in public schools, in tackling social problems such as alcohol and substance abuse and gender based violence, and in building social solidarity in their communities,” the President said.
The President said that government looks to the National Youth Service to inculcate in young people the habits of work, the value of community service and a sense of duty to democracy.
Young people who want to participate in the National Youth Service should join SAYouth.mobi and create their profile.
President Ramaphosa further touched on the Youth Employment Service – known as YES – which is another important initiative that has reached key milestones over the last year.
Through its partnerships with the private sector, YES has created nearly 82 000 quality work opportunities for young South Africans.
He said that this has injected over R4.6 billion into the economy through salaries alone.
“Corporate partners use the Youth Employment Service to build their own workforces by creating work experiences for youth in industries of the future.
“These include industries such as digital, drones, green economy, urban farming, mining, global business services, creative industries and many more,” he said.
The President lauded the young people of South Africa who are imbued with a great entrepreneurial spirit and energy. He said the task is to support them to unleash their potential.
“The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, for example, is establishing a fund that will support an enabling ecosystem for young people to engage in forms of enterprise and self-employment.
“We will continue to provide young entrepreneurs with the capital and networks to grow their start-up businesses,” the President said.
In the past financial year, 7 500 young people have received financial enterprise support and over 30 000 young people have received other enterprise support from the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development.
“At this moment in the life of our nation, we need visionary young people who are united and focused on improving our communities and building our economy.
“We need young people who have discovered their generational mission and who are determined never to betray it,” he said.
The President called on young people to take the lead in building a more humane society – a society that treats people with disabilities with dignity.
He said government is deeply concerned about the number of young people falling into depression and taking their own lives.
President Ramaphosa said that government is committed to improving the lives of the youth of South Africa and further called upon the private sector to open more opportunities for the youth. – SAnews.gov.za