President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Sipho Pityana File photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
JOHANNESBURG -  President of Business Unity South Africa, Sipho Pityana, has decried the lack of integration and the duplication of government programmes in fighting youth unemployment.

According to StatsSA, the youth aged 15–24 years are the most vulnerable in the South African labour market as the unemployment rate among this age group was 55,2 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

Speaking at Harambee’s 6th Solutions Exchange conference in Johannesburg, Pityana said one of the biggest killers of employment opportunities for the youth was the duplication of initiatives that do not speak to one another. 

He said the Skills Fund, for instance, needed to be moved from the Department of Higher Education and placed where its resources could be used to their full potential.

The National Skills Fund is used to fund projects identified as national priorities and a range of skills development initiatives that aim to improve the employability or self-employability of citizens.

“I’m very resentful because of the Skills Fund reporting to the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology. I think it is misplaced because the skills agenda is an active labour market. It doesn’t belong there, it’s a step child where it is,” Pityana said.

“It speaks to a lack of integration. When somebody gets out of a job, at the same time as they are taken care of through UIF the Skills Fund should kick in and help them transition from whatever job they are losing into a new skills regime. You need to have those integrated in one place and speak to one another.”

Pityana was talking on the Solutions Exchange panel that looked at how senior business and government leaders should use priority interventions to contribute to a national agenda for solving youth unemployment.

He said that even though some people were cynical about the agreements reached at the Jobs Summit, they actually planted new thoughts about to what extent to bring mutually reinforcing 

“There are too many parallel initiatives wasting and duplicating a lot of resources. This country must appreciate that young people are not inbreds,” he said. 

“Young people have the capability and can drive what is likely to be the major driver of growth in this economy, and that is small business. So we must enable them to be courageous and feel supported and give them steps to establish.”

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