President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the state of the nation address in Parliament. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parliament - Thousands of young people will immediately receive funding from the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development in order to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday. 

Delivering the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, Ramaphosa said these young people will receive the funding within the next 100 days starting from Friday. 

Three of the beneficiaries, who were invited to SONA were Sibusiso Mahone, Siyabonga Tiwana and Tholakele Nkosi. 

“They are already participating as entrepreneurs and engineers in the programme that we are crafting for them and supporting them in. 

“We are going to give young people of our country great opportunities so that they can participate in the economy,” said Ramaphosa.   

In its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), Statistics SA had revealed that about 8.2 million, or 40.1% of South Africa’s 20.4 million young people between 15 to 34 were unemployed and not enrolled in education and training institutions. 

The survey also revealed that the total population of unemployed citizens of all ages remained at 29.1%. 

Economist Mike Schussler raised fears that the number of unemployed could rise to between 30% and 40%.

Ramaphosa dedicated a large portion of his speech addressing the issue of youth unemployment and also promising to change the situation. But he raised concerns that the economy, which is the core of employment creation, had not grown for over a decade. 

He said the government would take six priority actions over the next five years to reduce youth unemployment. 

“We are creating pathways for young people into the economy, we are building cutting edge solutions to reach young people wherever they are through online platforms, on the phone or in person. 

“This would allow them to receive active support information and work readiness training to increase their employability and match themselves to opportunities,” he said. 

He said from February the government would launch five prototype sites in five provinces and at the national level to reach three million young people.

“We are fundamentally changing how we prepare young people for the future of work, providing shorter and more flexible courses in specific skills that employers in fast growing sectors need,” he said.

He said the training opportunities would enable young people to be quickly employable. 

“We are developing new and innovative ways to support youth entrepreneurs and self employment. 

“We are scaling up young employment services by working with TVET colleges and the private sector to ensure that more learners receive practical experience in the workplace to complete their training.

“We are establishing the first cohort of the presidential youth service programme that would unlock the agency of young people and provide opportunities for them to earn an income while contributing to nation building,” he said.  

United Democratic Movement MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa told SABC that he was impressed with the way Ramaphosa addressed the issue of youth unemployment. 

“Our concern is that the country does not have the revenue or the resources to fund some of the good plans that he announced today,” said Kwankwa.  

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said Ramaphosa demonstrated a “tremendous amount of optimism” while the country was facing a weak economy. 

“I just could not see how he can see the economy turning around in a short space of time and promise us something would happen in the short space of time,” he said.

Ekurhuleni Mayor Zwandile Masina was excited that his metro had been promised a university. 

“This would go a long way in improving skills based economy, and I have no doubt that this would change the life of many young people in our area,” said Masina.

Political Bureau