Johannesburg - It is the shared responsibility of government, business, labour, and civil society to develop pathways for young people into work, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
Addressing a Youth Day event at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said, "as we seek to build a new, inclusive South Africa, we look to the energy and creativity of youth. Young people are catalysts of social change.
"Even as we built a democratic South Africa, it was fearless young people who reminded us that liberation would not be complete until the wealth of the land is shared among its people. The current generation of youth has therefore chosen as its mission the attainment of economic freedom," he said.
Youth continued to bear the brunt of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. They remained the hardest hit by disease, violent crime, drug abuse, and underdevelopment.
"We understand the frustration of young people who cannot find jobs, who do not have the skills and experience employers are looking for, and are unable to find the support they need to start their own businesses. Our shared responsibility, as government, business, labour and civil society, is to develop pathways for young people into work. It is this task to which we should be directing all our efforts and all our energies," Ramaphosa said.
Progress was being made in many areas. Among other things, the National Youth Development Agency had established a value chain of entrepreneurship which included skills development training, development finance, mentorship, support, and market linkages. More than 2500 startup companies had been provided with funding, creating more than 10,000 jobs.
Beyond this, more than 25,000 young people had been placed in job opportunities over the past three financial years. Government introduced the employment tax incentive to encourage companies to employ more young people. Government, business, labour, and civil society had begun preparations for a jobs summit which would need to take extraordinary measures to create jobs on a scale that had never before been seen in this country, Ramaphosa said.
"It will need to forge a new social compact which mobilises all sections of society behind the task of growth and job creation. We have demonstrated what is possible through working together.
"The challenge for unemployed youth is not only one of skills. There are many graduates, who have completed university degrees, who are still unemployed. This is a vast pool of skills and knowledge that is being wasted. Society has invested a great deal in the education of these young people, but our economy is not benefiting from this investment.
"On this Youth Day, we call on all companies – both in the public and private sector – to make a deliberate effort to seek out unemployed graduates and employ them. It does not place a great burden on individual companies, but if taken up on a large scale, such a call could significantly reduce youth unemployment, while bringing much needed skills and capacity into the economy.
"Employers need to understand that for our country to succeed, for their businesses to thrive, they must take responsibility for providing young people with the work experience they need. They must realise that the only way to get work experience is to get work.
"If we are to succeed in creating more jobs for young people, our economy needs to grow much faster – and for that it needs investment. We are focusing on investment into those parts of the economy that have the greatest potential for growth and the creation of jobs. We are focusing on investment that will create opportunities for young people in particular," Ramaphosa said.
"Young people must go to school and pass. They must work hard at institutions of higher learning, achieve outstanding results and use their skills to contribute to building a new society. The challenges that our youth face are great, but they are not insurmountable. We can overcome them if we work together," he said.
African News Agency/ANA