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Ramaphosa lists plans to aid ‘worrying’ youth joblessness

Youth unemployment is a concern for President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Supplied

Youth unemployment is a concern for President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Supplied

Published Jun 17, 2022


President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education and training was the greatest challenge facing the country.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the official June 16 commemoration of Youth Day at Mthatha in the Eastern Cape yesterday.

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“We are here today to honour the youth of 1976 and the youth of all decades whose bravery, determination and vision were vital to the achievement of our democracy. From their struggles, we have learnt that there is nothing that young people cannot achieve when they are united and committed,” he said.

It was due to the struggles of young people over many years that access to primary education is now universal for every single young person.

Ramaphosa said the country produced four times the number of African graduates than in 1994.

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He said these graduates had gone on to become leading doctors, technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“Our social security system offers a level of basic social protection to every marginalised and vulnerable citizen, especially children. These achievements should not overshadow the deep seated challenges faced by young people.

“Now more than ever, we need young people to rally together to confront and overcome the massive challenges facing our country,” Ramaphosa said.

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He said the apartheid legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality has in recent times, been compounded by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest and the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape.

“As we rebuild from the pandemic, we therefore remain focused on growing our economy and creating jobs. We remain focused on far-reaching economic reforms and creating conditions for the expansion of businesses throughout the country.

“We are intensifying our investment drive and removing the red tape that holds back business growth and greater employment creation,” he said.

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Ramaphosa said they were harnessing the capacity of the state to respond to the immediate needs of young people.

He said it is for this reason that they announced the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention which is a comprehensive response to the youth unemployment challenge.

“We have also launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which supports public and social employment, and which has created close on 880 000 job opportunities since it was established,” he said.

He said a flagship initiative of the employment stimulus was the school assistants programme, which has placed 287 000 young people in schools across the country.

Ramaphosa said these young people are accessing meaningful employment while supporting teachers and contributing to positive learning outcomes in our schools.

He said the latest programme to be launched through the employment stimulus is the Social Employment Fund.

“It has begun to recruit 50 000 participants in community safety, food and nutrition, digital inclusion, and sports, arts and recreation. We have just launched a new dashboard for the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention on the State of the Nation website,” Ramaphosa said.

Since SA Youth was launched, it had placed more than 600 000 young people in earning opportunities and provided support to many more, including interview preparation, job search and entrepreneurship training.

“As part of government’s commitment to remove the barriers that young people confront when trying to enter the public service, we are reducing the cost and effort of applying for positions.

“For example, applicants for public service positions are no longer required to submit certified copies of their educational qualifications and other relevant documents.

“This simple change will significantly reduce the cost of applying, improve turnaround times and reduce the administrative burden on departments.

“At the beginning of next month, government will be launching the Future of Work Ambassadors programme. This programme will focus on improving and modernising the recruitment and retention of youth in the public service. We are pursuing innovative new ways of linking learning with earning,” said Ramaphosa.

He said they looked to the National Youth Service to inculcate in young people the habits of work, the value of community service and a sense of duty to our democracy.

Ramaphosa urged young people who wanted to participate in the National Youth Service to join and create their profile.

The Youth Employment Service known as ‘YES’ was another important initiative that had reached key milestones over the last year.

“Through its partnerships with the private sector, YES has created nearly 82 000 quality work opportunities for young South Africans. This has injected over R4.6 billion into the economy through salaries alone,” he said..

Ramaphosa said corporate partners used the Youth Employment Service to build their own workforces by creating work experiences for youth in industries of the future.

These include industries such digital, drones, green economy, urban farming, mining, global business services, creative industries and many more.

He said young people had to shun crime and fight against corruption.

“I also want to address a special generation of young people popularly known as Ma2000. This generation is the future of our country,” he said.

Ramaphosa said these were the young people who took responsibility for their well-being and the well-being of those around them.

He said these were the young people who understood the damage caused by alcohol and drug abuse, who refused to be drawn into crime and violence and who avoided irresponsible and reckless sexual behaviour.

“Young people must be inspired by the 1976 generation to look beyond their immediate circumstances and pursue their hopes and dreams. They must create livelihoods by pursuing their business ideas, focusing on their studies and always looking for opportunities for development.

“As a society, we must appreciate the contribution of young people, invest in their development and support their efforts to define a new future for our country,” Ramaphosa said.

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