More than 400,000 young South Africans have been trained in different fields last year in an effort to prepare them for the job market, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the weekend.
Ramaphosa was speaking on Sunday during the national Youth Day celebrations at Polokwane Cricket Club in Limpopo.
The president, who spent much of June 16 dancing and singing along with his deputy, David Mabuza, Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha and Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale, told the jubilant crowd, largely made up of youth, that unemployment remained a national crisis that affects South Africa on a daily basis.
“More than half of South Africans aged 15 to 24 are currently unemployed,” he said.
“If we are to urgently address this, we need the active participation of the private sector to create pathways into work for young people who are prepared to learn, work hard and better themselves.”
Ramaphosa praised the work done by the Youth Employment Service, otherwise known as the YES initiative.
He said that in a few months, the initiative had placed more than 18,000 young people in employment opportunities and was providing business infrastructure and support through its community hubs.
“The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which works hand-in-glove with government, has also disbursed development finance to over 6,000 start-up youth entrepreneurs in the past five years,” he said.
“This saw the agency’s intervention creating more than 18,000 new jobs in the same period.
“In its efforts to break barriers for young people in the job market, the NYDA has also trained almost 400,000 young people on job preparedness and life skills.
“Around 25,000 of these young people have now been placed in permanent jobs,” the president said to thunderous applause of the more than 5,000 jubilant young people at the event.
According to Ramaphosa, the Expanded Public Works and Community Works programmes were providing work opportunities and income relief to young people performing labour-intensive activities like building roads, clearing alien vegetation and fighting fires.
The president also raised concerns around the escalating use of drugs by youth and the scourge of HIV and Aids. He said government was aware that alcohol and substance abuse were taking a devastating toll on young lives across the nine provinces, adding that the average age of drug users was getting younger.
In response to his speech, NYDA chairperson Sifiso Mtsweni said youth wanted government to work with speed to scrap the need for experience among first-time job seekers.