There’s renewed hope for the youth and SMEs
Sona offers the following points on unemployed/unskilled youth and small businesses:
- Nine new TVET colleges will be built this year, which will empower young people in townships and rural areas with skills and the possibility of self-employment.
- A bilateral student scholarship agreement has been signed with various countries, which sees youth going for training in critical skills, such as the successful Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro Medical Training Programme in Cuba.
- A new University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni will be established to train the youth in high-impact and cutting-edge technological innovation for industries.
- To provide student accommodation at universities and colleges the government will spend R64 billion and private investment roughly R64bn.
The government will implement the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention - comprising six priority actions over the next five years to reduce youth unemployment, these are:
1. Build solutions to provide youth with active support, information and work readiness training to increase their employability and match them to opportunities. 2. Provide shorter, more flexible courses in specific skills that employers in fast-growing sectors need. 3. Develop new and innovative ways to support youth entrepreneurship and self-employment. 4. Scale-up the Youth Employment Service and work with TVET colleges and the private sector to ensure learners receive practical experience.
5. Establish the first cohort of a Presidential Youth Service programme that will unlock the agency of young people and provide opportunities for them to earn an income. 6. Lead a youth employment initiative to be funded by setting aside 1 percent of the Budget to deal with the high levels of youth unemployment. The Minister of Finance will give more details on this.
The National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development will provide grant funding and business support to 1000 young entrepreneurs in the next 100 days, while a programme to assist 100 000 young entrepreneurs over the next three years to access business skills training, funding and market facilitation will be launched.* The empowerment of women is critical to inclusive economic growth. The SheTradesZA platform to assist women-owned businesses to participate in global value chains and markets will be launched, with R10bn support from the Industrial Development Corporation.
Also launching is a Tourism Equity Fund to stimulate transformation.
To create a larger market for small businesses, the Procurement Bill will soon be presented to Parliament so as to empower black and emerging businesses/suppliers and advance radical economic transformation.
The Poultry Master Plan aims to support chicken farmers/processors and save 54 000 jobs while creating new ones. Soon, a new poultry import tariff adjustment will be set to support the local industry. Similarly, a Sugar Master Plan has been developed with farmers and industrial users to save jobs in the sugar industry.
From a broader perspective, the president, as the chairperson of the AU, has prioritised women empowerment with financial inclusion, preferential procurement and preferential trade arrangements.
Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.