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Youth unemployment rate a huge mountain to climb but efforts are on the go, says Ramaphosa

13 June 2022 - 10:27
Recruitment is under way for the revitalised National Youth Service, which will create 50,000 jobs for unemployed young people performing acts of service. File photo.
Recruitment is under way for the revitalised National Youth Service, which will create 50,000 jobs for unemployed young people performing acts of service. File photo.
Image: ZINTLE BOBELO/ File photo

President Cyril Ramaphosa says SA has a huge mountain to climb in the quest to create jobs as youth unemployment is at a record high. 

He made the remarks in his Monday weekly newsletter ahead of Youth Day commemorations on Thursday. 

“Today the youth of SA 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. 

“We have a huge mountain to climb in our quest to create more jobs, especially for young people. According to Stats SA, youth unemployment is at 66.5%. No society can expect to grow or thrive when the vast majority of its young people are out of work.   

“Our foremost priority as government is to achieve higher rates of inclusive growth that generate sustainable jobs at the scale of social need,” said Ramaphosa.  

He said more than 370,000 jobs were created in the first quarter of this year. 

Among other economic reforms, the president said measures, such as industrial policy to support labour-intensive growth sectors and aimed to drive growth and expand private sector employment, were being implemented.

However, he warned that government cannot wait for higher growth to create jobs, especially for young people.

I hold the view that even as millions of people are unemployed, there is no shortage of work to be done to build a better SA
President Cyril Ramaphosa 

“I hold the view that even as millions of people are unemployed, there is no shortage of work to be done to build a better SA.”

Regarding the presidential employment stimulus programme aimed at tackling unemployment on a large scale, Ramaphosa highlighted the Social Employment Fund, which he said will create 50,000 new work opportunities in the first phase before scaling up in subsequent phases.

“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, it can also unlock creativity and agency, build local participation and strengthen mutual support systems in communities.” 

Ramaphosa cited the revitalised National Youth Service, which he said would 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. 

Recruitment for this was under way, he said. 

“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. 

“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,” said Ramaphosa. 

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