South African president outlines measures to address high youth unemployment

Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday unveiled a series of measures to address high youth unemployment, saying solving this problem remains his foremost priority.

The government is starting to implement the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which sets out five priority actions for the next five years, Ramaphosa said at a dialogue with youth representatives in Cape Town.

This intervention is being driven by a specialized Project Management Office in the Presidency to encourage competitive, export-oriented, labor-intensive industries to provide more opportunities for young people, Ramaphosa said.

According to the latest Quarterly Labor Force Survey by Statistics South Africa, unemployment remains unacceptably high in the country, at 29 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Youths aged 15-24 are the most vulnerable, with an unemployment rate at over 55 percent, and two thirds of some 1.2 million young people entering the labor market each year remain out of employment, education or training, the survey shows.

“The high youth employment rate is unacceptable,” Ramaphosa said.

The government’s first priority action, he said, is to create a network for young job seekers to view and access learning, work and basic training opportunities.

The second is to ensure that young people have the skills to access opportunities in key growth sectors such as global business services, digital and technology, tourism, agriculture, and social services, said Ramaphosa.

“Thirdly, we must find new and innovative ways to support youth entrepreneurship and self-employment,” he said.

The fourth is to help young people get work experience so that they can gain a foothold in the labor market, said Ramaphosa.

The fifth is to develop the Presidential Youth Service Program to “provide opportunities for young people to give back to their communities and contribute to nation building, while improving their employability,” Ramaphosa said. Enditem

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