To cap off Youth Month, the City of Johannesburg, under the mayor, Mpho Phalatse and MMC for housing, Mlungisi Mabaso, hosted the Youth in Construction Summit at the Brixton Recreational Centre, with scores of young people eager to find opportunities for business and employment with multiple stakeholders.
Recent statistics from the Quarterly Labour Survey show that youth unemployment continues to be a burden as young people find themselves disadvantaged by the labour market.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate was 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years, while the current official national rate stands at 34,5%.
It is with these statistics in mind that Mabaso, who himself is considered as the city's youngest leader at the age of 32, sought to bring together young people with a view to bringing them up to speed with various opportunities available in the construction industry with the city as the driver of opportunities through various partners and stakeholders.
Councillor of Ward 39, which covers the area of Brixton and surrounding areas, Ricky Nair shared his displeasure at the exclusion of young people in leadership positions as well as other opportunities, saying young people should be represented in all the structures and leadership positions if the country does not want to see the same revolution of young people against authorities in power.
"I am a product of 1976, the year of the youth who fought for our freedom. I must say, I am disappointed to see less than 50% of young people in front of me. Let us make sure, going forward, that when we talk about the youth, they are there to hear for themselves. We need to include them as they are the future of this country. Our young people are disillusioned but they are not lazy as some of us believe. If we don't, there will come another revolution in this country," he said.
Mabaso, who has been praised for his work ethic and youthful spirit in the city, said leaders need to work together to identify barriers that make it difficult for young people to take part in the construction sector and many other sectors of the country's economy.
"Young people must be able to participate in the construction sector without fear of defeat. We need to identify barriers and look at government legislation if it is conducive for young people to participate in growing the building and construction sector. Are the frameworks and regulations making it difficult, and do the 30% SMME guidelines address the problems?“ he said.
The Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse, who gave the keynote address at the summit, was full of praise for the work being done to bring together young people within the city closer to the opportunities adding that her office with 61% youth staff complement benefits from the enthusiasm and spirit of young people.
"I am grateful that, in the month of young people, we were able to deliver this groundbreaking summit. Over the last month, I have had an opportunity to engage with young people, and the prevailing message is that the youth want to be seen, and they want to be heard and be afforded the space to access opportunities. This idea that young people are lazy is simply not true," the mayor said.
Speaking of opportunities available for young people within the sector as well as with various departments and implementing partners in the city of Johannesburg, acting executive director at Human Settlements, Lungi Makhanya, said there are plenty of opportunities for work and entrepreneurship for young people to take advantage of.
"Opportunities for the Youth are plenty. Our scorecard has 90% of being implemented with EPWP jobs. Housing is not about building units but also tap into empowerment and entrepreneurship aspect. We have implemented these through Joscho and other implementing partners. These range from training to EPWP projects to supplier and service provider projects for young people who have an entrepreneurial spirit," she said.
Bonga Makhanya of the SA Youth Council said young people should be given opportunities to partner with larger and more experienced construction companies with a report back on how money was being spent to empower young people.
"How much of the 500 million Joscho spends is spent on young people? We want to build residencies and roads and not only be included in EPWP projects. Young people must be trusted with big projects and be allowed to partner through joint ventures with big companies to build capacity," he said.