Thursday, 16 June 2022 17:07

Covid-19, looting and floods exacerbated youth unemployment |Ramaphosa.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on young people to rally together as they battle the current challenges and has reiterated government’s commitment to intensify the country’s investment drive and removing the red tape that holds back business growth and greater employment creation.

Ramaphosa said the youth remain affected by a number of challenges including poverty, unemployment and inequality.

He said the country’s economic woes have been worsened by Covid-19, the July unrest and the floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

This had an impact on the economy; yet many businesses were beginning to recover.

Ramaphosa, who was addressing those marking Youth Day in the Eastern Cape on Thursday, said efforts were being made to ramp up the economy.

This year marks 45 years since the uprising by school students against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction and the violent response of the apartheid government.

However, he said more young people needed to get into the labour market.

"The fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education or training is the greatest challenge facing our country today. 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,"said Ramaphosa

Alongside these measures, Ramaphosa said that his administration is harnessing the capacity of the state to respond to the immediate needs of young people.

As the country rebuilds from the pandemic, the President said that government remains focused on growing the economy and creating jobs.

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

"The fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education or training is the greatest challenge facing our country today, "he said.

Presidential Youth Employment Intervention

"It is for this reason that we 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 to 880 000 job opportunities since it was established," he said.

A flagship initiative of the employment stimulus is the school assistants programme, which has placed 287 000 young people in schools across the country.

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

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

The programme 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. Members of the public are now able to track detailed progress with implementation and receive up-to-date information about the intervention," the President said.

Government's National Pathway Management Network, which links young people to opportunities for earning, learning and support, has now signed up over 2.9 million users.

The President called young people to join the network through an online platform, SAYouth.mobi, which is data free on all mobile networks.

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

Removing barriers to entering Public Service

As part of government’s commitment to remove the barriers that young people confront when trying to enter the public service, the President said that government is 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," he said.

New Programmes to be launched

At the beginning of next month, the President announced that 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. For example, the National Skills Fund is pioneering the pay-for-performance skills development model that will create 8 000 job opportunities for young people in digital skills," he said.

Ramaphosa further announced the official launch of the revitalised National Youth Service.

Youth service can contribute to civic responsibility, a common identity, development and nation building.

"This is a passionate generation that sees the need in our country and wants to serve those around them.

“There is a great deal of work for them to do in public schools, in tackling social problems such as alcohol and substance abuse and gender based violence, and in building social solidarity in their communities," the President said.

Ramaphosa said that government looks 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 democracy.

The Youth Employment Service to build their own workforces by creating work experiences for youth in industries of the future.

Meanwhile DA leader John Steenhuisen, speaking in Alexandra, painted a less positive picture during his party’s Youth Day celebrations. 

He said the future looked bleaker for the country’s youth because of the rising unemployment rate and a slow economy. 

He blamed all the troubles on the ANC-led government, while encouraging young people to use their votes to express their dissatisfaction. 

EFF leader Julius Malema held a rally in Limpopo. He told those gathered that Ramaphosa had made it clear during his State of the Nation Address that it was not the government’s job to create jobs

The president had said it was the government’s job to create a conducive investment and job creation environment.

Malema said young unemployed people should look to this message and realise the ANC had given up on solving the unemployment crisis.