President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is ramping up efforts to address unemployment, specifically related to the youth.
He was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter.
Last week, Statistics South Africa revealed that at least 66.5% of youth are unemployed, despite an increase of some 370 000 new jobs created during the past quarter.
The President acknowledged that as the country gears up to commemorate Youth Day honouring the young school children who stood up against the apartheid regime in 1976, the current generation faces challenges of their own.
“Today, the youth of South Africa confront new struggles in their quest to lead lives of dignity and in pursuit of a better life. Though we have made substantial progress in broadening opportunities for young people in basic and higher education, millions of young people remain unemployed,” he said.
The President highlighted that the Presidential Employment Stimulus, through the revitalised National Youth Service (NYS) and Social Employment Fund (SEF), is geared at assisting these youth to face some of these challenges.
“The SEF will create 50 000 new work opportunities in the first phase before scaling up further in subsequent phases. This work is in areas like community safety, food kitchens, urban agriculture, early childhood development and the fight against gender-based violence.
“The NYS… will create a further 50 000 jobs for unemployed young people performing acts of service across the country, while providing much-needed work experience and reinforcing the value of active citizenship,” he said.
President Ramaphosa emphasised that the two programmes offer hope while “improving communities and creating public goods that will last beyond the work itself”.
Youth are already being recruited for both these programmes.
“The unique feature of social employment is that it recognises that unemployed people in communities are a powerful resource for development, not a ‘problem’ to be solved. We have many real problems to address – from improving waste collection to creating safe and beautiful public spaces – that require work, and many people who are eager to do it.
“Not only does social employment provide an income for participants by supporting locally-driven initiatives to fulfil local needs; social employment can also unlock creativity and agency, build local participation and strengthen mutual support systems in communities.
“What these programmes show is that public employment can achieve multiple objectives at once. These include addressing unemployment, building skills and experience, providing public goods and services, and, perhaps most important of all, contributing to a massive national effort to improve the state of our country,” President Ramaphosa said.
He called on the private sector to join government and contribute its share in creating jobs.
“Despite the great setback caused by COVID-19, our economy is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. As government, we will continue to champion programmes and initiatives that limit the impact of unemployment on young people until the private sector starts creating more jobs at scale.
“I once again call on business to be part of this effort by employing more young people, by making use of the Employee Tax Incentive and other measures, and by supporting and buying from businesses owned and run by young people,” President Ramaphosa said.