Government pushes for increased jobs for youth

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Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says in the nine months to December, 343 000 new jobs were created for the youth during the implementation of the accord. Photo: GCIS

Johannesburg - A year since signing the youth employment accord, the government is looking to have more jobs “set aside” for the youth after increasing youth employment by 6 percent.

In the nine months to December, 343 000 new jobs were created for young people during the implementation of the accord, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel reported yesterday.

Speaking at the Western Cape chapter of the youth summits, which will be held in other provinces later, Patel presented figures that showed four provinces produced significant results in new jobs created in the nine months between April and December.

Gauteng created 185 000 new youth jobs, Western Cape 100 000, Mpumalanga had 84 000 and Limpopo created 36 000.

The youth employment accord was signed in April last year by 27 government ministers, business and youth representatives from different sectors. Patel said all parties had agreed on the essential elements of the accord towards the end of 2012, which allowed them to start implementing the joint commitments as soon as it was signed.

He said that the biggest achievement with these figures was that younger job seekers were not employed at the expense of older people.

“We’ve seen new jobs for young people growing faster than new jobs for older people. But in fact, in both categories we’ve had a net increase in jobs,” he said.

A major 47 percent of the new jobs created went to the youth who had a matric, while 11 percent went to university graduates. Only a quarter of these jobs went to women.

Most of the jobs, 122 000, were in the construction sector followed by community services at 84 000, and most jobs were created in government programmes. Agriculture and manufacturing, on the other hand, lost more than 50 000 youth jobs during that period.

While the private sector companies provided most jobs in the construction sector and not the government, Patel said the state as the client could set terms that required more young people to be brought in by these firms.

“In infrastructure, we’ve been working hard with public entities to make sure that they improve youth employment. I now have a dashboard in which I measure the number of people on site in Kusile or Medupi and so on,” Patel said.

One example was of 1 408 jobs created for the youth at the Medupi construction site in those nine months.

The figures presented by Patel showed youth unemployment dropped 4 percent between April last year and December. At 13 percent, Limpopo had the highest drop in the unemployment rate for its youth.

To bolster this trend, the government was looking to impose youth employment targets in some of the sectors that receive incentives.

Patel said the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, had signed a directive that all business process outsourcing companies needed to set aside 80 percent of new positions for people younger than 35 or they would not get any more government support.

“We are looking at other sectors as well. As we approve future bid windows under the Department of Energy’s independent power producer procurement programme, the government would be putting youth employment targets in those,” Patel said.

The Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Obed Bapela, said the government was still discussing the possibility of establishing a youth ministry. But they had made a call to the government that should this not materialise, there had to be a strong directorate for the youth at the level of the Presidency’s director-general or deputy director-general.

This person would be responsible for an establishment of a directorate that operates more like a department of its own. - Business Report


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