The Minister of Employment and Labour Mr Thulas Nxesi presented his department’s plans and progress in addressing youth and unemployment for the National Council of Provinces.

Mr Nxesi said that President Cyril Ramaphosa has championed the cause of youth unemployment through the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which was launched in February 2020, as well as through other programmes that place the issue of youth unemployment at the centre of economic policy.

He highlighted that the objectives of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention are to work towards a South Africa in which every young person has a place to go and is absorbed into the economy.

He informed the delegates to the NCOP that as part of the reconfiguration of the department to give effect to the additional employment mandate, the Labour Activation Programmes (LAPs) funded by the UIF, were refocused to contribute directly to job creation and preservation as follows:

  • 23 867 youths benefited from the LAPs against a target of 26 000, whilst 33 000 benefitted from LAPs opportunities against a target of 47,000.
  • UIF LAP targets for 2021/22 include the following: 12 000 youth targeted for training; 41 000 UIF contributors targeted for job retention or reemployment; as well as supporting SMMEs and establishing 30 cooperatives.

Youth centres have been established in Newcastle, Durban, De Aar and Cape Town. They serve as a one-stop shop both for prospective employers and for the youth to access career guidance, psychometric assessment, validation of their qualifications and effective and efficient job application and placement opportunities. Similar online services are now available at most labour centres.

Mr Nxesi encouraged the delegates to the NCOP and members of provincial legislatures to visit labour centres in their constituencies and see for themselves the kind of work the department is doing. The National Pathway Management Network is led from the Project Management Office in the Presidency and connects young people to different platforms in the network where they can build their profiles, receive directions to jobs, work experiences and income-generating programmes offered by the Department of Labour.

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, said the debate on youth unemployment and poverty comes at a critical time where disruptions caused by Covid-19 pandemic have laid bare the inequality that exist in the country and globally.

She said that in the a few weeks’ time, there will be a United Nations Food Systems Summit, which will launch new actions to deliver progress on all Sustainable Development Goals. “As a country we have held about 12 dialogues in preparation of this summit, one of which focused on the role of youth in building and strengthening food systems,” she reported.

Ms Didiza told the NCOP that Africa has the youngest population in the world with more than 400 million young people aged between 15 and 35 and that such youthful population calls for an increase of investment in economic and social development.

On issues of youth programmes within her department, Ms Didiza said that there is a new cohort of young people who are increasingly joining the ranks of farmers and agribusiness enterprises. Although the number may be low for now, but they form a building block of the new food producers of our country. She unpacked some of the engagements they had with the young people and how they have articulated their challenges, such as economic inclusions, education and skills.

Initiative to tackle these challenges include:

  • Review of the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy, which advocates that 40% allocation to young people. Out of 151 478 hectares allocated in the past two years, 67 196 (44%) are allocated to women and 38 163 (25%) are allocated to young people.
  • The Presidential Employment Stimulus (PESI) assisted 32 999 young people, 18 275 being young women. 2 450 subsistence farmers were supported to deal with challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic during the 2020/21 lockdowns.
  •  Employment of Extension and Advisory Professionals – 10 000 officers to be employed in the next three years to provide advisory and extension services to farmers in the various districts.
  • Agricultural Graduate Placement Programme. A budget is ring-fenced for placement of 1 000 graduates in farms/enterprises for a period of two years for entrepreneurial development and experiential learning by provincial departments and participate in the sector as agri-preneurs.
  • The Career Awareness Programme focusing on the promotion of careers in agriculture as livelihoods of choice. To date 480 learners have been supported, 131 completed their qualifications in various fields within the sector which 57 still furthering their studies.
  • External Bursary Scheme- 1 905 bursaries were awarded to young students. 1 010 completed their qualifications and are contributing to the economy of the country as part of the labour force, as scientists, economists, veterinarians, food technologists, candidate engineers etc. 231 are employed by DALRRD, seven are employed by other national government departments, 105 are employed by provincial Departments of Agriculture and 232 are employed by private sector and parastatals.
  • Graduate Internship Placement Programme – 3 891 unemployed graduates were placed in various national and provincial government departments as well as in the private sector.
  • The National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC) - As part of DDM programme, 572 youth from Limpopo, KZN and Eastern Cape trained in agriculture by the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) in commodities such as: Maize, Poultry, Dairy, Piggery, Beef and Vegetable production and agribusiness. 78,5 hectares of land made available by various traditional councils to allow the young people to carry out agricultural activities. 188 young people undergoing Public Safety and Traffic Management training as part of the Integrated Rural Safety Plan in Mpumalanga and the Free State respectively. The intention is for the youth to be absorbed by their local municipalities. 93 young people from Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Western Cape currently undergoing training with Clicks Pharmacy Group and will be absorbed by the company. As part of the District Development Model (DDM) 98 young people (73 EC and 25 KZN) receiving training in Environmental Waste Management Qualification.

Zolani Majozi
9 September 2021