President Ramaphosa has announced a new presidency-backed programme aimed at getting unemployed young South Africans into work opportunities.
In a presentation on Wednesday (12 February) Ramaphosa said that the plan – called the ‘Presidential Youth Employment Intervention’ – sets out five priority actions for the next five years.
“What distinguishes this intervention is that it is being driven by a specialised Project Management Office in The Presidency,” he said.
“Its aim is to increase levels of alignment and focus across government and begin to tackle youth unemployment at scale.”
These priority actions include everything from a new online jobs network to short courses in specific skills that employers require.
Ramaphosa outlined how this new plan will work below.
National Pathway Management Network
The first priority is to create a National Pathway Management Network for young work-seekers to view and access learning and work opportunities, to receive a basic package of support and work readiness training, and to be matched to employment and other economic opportunities, Ramaphosa said.
“This is especially important for those young people who are marginalised and excluded from the economy.
“Through this platform, young people will receive support in person and online to create their CV and to develop their job search and interview skills.
“They will also complete online assessments to show their capabilities so that they can be matched to jobs and opportunities that are available in the market.”
Ramaphosa said that the second priority is to ensure that young people have the skills that they need to access opportunities in key growth sectors such as global business services, digital and technology, tourism, agriculture, and social services.
“Our skills development system must be more responsive to demand, in the immediate term as well as the long term,” he said.
“We are working with these sectors, together with the Department of Higher Education and Training and the various SETAs, to create opportunities for young people to undertake shorter courses in specific skills that employers require – either to help them transition into their first job or to top up some training that they have already received.”
Ramaphosa highlighted call centres as a possible job creator as they only 12 weeks to train a young person for a job, even if they did not complete their matric.
The global business services sector has created more than 20,000 of these jobs in the past year, and it can absorb even more young people without having to spend three years in a TVET college or a university, he said.
Ramaphosa said that the third main focus area will be entrepreneurship and self-employment.
“We can do this by removing regulatory obstacles to small enterprise, and creating public spaces that allow businesses to thrive in townships, villages and urban centres,” he said.
“We are focusing on both the enablers that must be in place to support young entrepreneurs, such as connectivity and affordable data, and the opportunity areas that are ripe for innovation – such as the food economy, the green economy, and the waste economy.”
“Our fourth priority is to help young people to get work experience so that they can gain a foothold in the labour market,” said Ramaphosa.
“We are scaling up the Youth Employment Service and working with TVET colleges to ensure that more learners receive practical experience to complete their theoretical training.”
Ramaphosa said that the final point is the development of a Presidential Youth Service programme that will provide opportunities for young people to give back to their communities and contribute to nation building, while improving their employability.
“We are developing a model that will allow national youth service to achieve scale and prominence, in activities such as sports, arts and culture, rejuvenating public infrastructure and working on community-driven projects,” he said.
“These five actions represent an ambitious and unprecedented new agenda for youth employment, working both to create more opportunities for young people and to unlock the energy and potential that young people have to offer.”