Johannesburg - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the Youth Employment Service (YES) will improve young people's prospects of finding employment and would help to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the launch of the Youth Employment Service, an initiative between business, government, labour, civil society and young people, at the Riverside Incubation Hub in Fourways, Johannesburg.
Under the programme, businesses will create one-year paid positions for youth aged between 18 and 35 with a minimum paid stipend of R3,500 a month.
Those businesses which do not have the capacity to place more people in their organisations have the option of sponsoring the salary for a one-year placement in small and medium enterprises or to help young people start and grow their own businesses through seed funding.
Ramaphosa said that the Youth Employment Service was a timely, worthy and ambitious response to youth unemployment in the country, saying that the issue was perhaps the greatest and most pressing social and economic challenge facing South Africa at this moment in history.
"We have a huge challenge of unemployment in our country, but it is the young people of this country who, more than most, must daily grapple with the misery and indignity of poverty and unemployment. It’s sad to see young people standing in corners with no sense of hope," Ramaphosa said.
"Today we are opening pathways and great opportunities for young people. It has been asked before 'Uzoythola kanjani uhleli ekhoneni?' We invite young people to come forward. Young person, let this be a new chapter in your life. Understanding the constraints that young black work seekers face, we need effective, sustainable and scalable programmes to prepare these people for first time employment."
Ramaphosa thanked the companies who have come forward to provide work experience opportunities to the first 100 YES participants, including Unilever, Sasol, Investec, ABSA, and Netcare.
"Thank you to all the companies that have shown interest and who have committed to becoming part of the programme. By providing one-year paid work experience opportunities to thousands of unemployed young people, these companies will not only be measurably improving their prospects to find employment, but will be helping to build a more inclusive, more sustainable economy," Ramaphosa said.
"The YES initiative has been made possible through the hard work and commitment of many people in the private sector, in government, in labour and in other organisations. I wish to express my gratitude in particular to Stephen Koseff, Colin Coleman, and Jabu Mabuza for having taken up the challenge we put to you two years ago and for having pursued it with such determination and zeal."
African News Agency/ANA