JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivered the keynote address at the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) Stakeholder Engagement Assembly in Kagiso, on Gauteng's West Rand.
The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative was launched in December 2020 and was intended to run until March 2021.
It has been extended on numerous occasions and is currently in its third phase which is expected to run until the end of August 2022. The fourth phase expected to commence next year.
The aim of the initiative is to reduce unemployment in the country and it has succeeded in employing 10 326 young people who were placed in 155 schools in the Western District at a cost of R77 million.
WATCH: Gauteng Premier David Makhura speaks about the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI):
The youth placed in the initiative were appointed as Education Assistants (EAs) and General School Assistants (GSAs) and they provided support before school starts, during school time, and after school.
Outside the Kagiso Memorial & Recreation Centre, Makhura spoke proudly about what the programme had achieved in its entirety.
He said: “So today this is one of the programmes that we are really, really showcasing. Over 300 000 young people who are helping our schools, they are assistants in our schools.”
Speaking on the possibility of the participants of the programme being absorbed by the government after the end of the contract, Makhura was quick to point out that although not all would be taken on as permanent employees, it was critical to note that the experience they had gained would go a long way in helping them to find jobs in future.
“There is only a certain number of limited posts in government. Those who will not be absorbed in government, we are empowering with other skills,” he said.
“We want to acknowledge these young people, we want to give them a special certificate. A special certificate that indicates that ‘you were part of a great programme; you worked in this school and you did the following.”
Makhura stated that there had been calls from the Department of Education to continue with the programme beyond August and indicated that a further R1 billion would be required.
He said the ideal situation would be if participants would use the programme to gain skills and then join the labour force which would allow them to make way for the next batch of participants to get an opportunity to gain skills and continue the cycle of education.
He addressed the issue of stipends not being paid timeously on some occasions. He stressed that he understood their frustration.
He said he would resolve the issue by next week and assured all in attendance that the problem would be a thing of the past.
To the joy of the crowd, he said: “I will convene a meeting with the Education Department and Treasury. We must sort out the payment of the stipend, it is not rocket science. We can't have young people who are working so hard and the schools appreciate what they are doing but every month they are not sure if their stipends will be paid to them.”
He urged schools to recruit the best participants and give them full-time employment and stated that he would liaise with the Department of Education to ensure that posts are created to be able to accommodate those who stand out.
Makhura also implored those who wanted to further their education and wished to be teachers to apply for bursaries through the Gauteng City Region Academy.