Government looks to tackle youth unemployment

Union Buildings
Union Buildings in Pretoria. Image: PresidencyZA

The Government of South Africa is ramping up its effort to address the rising youth unemployment rate in South Africa. The unemployment rate in South Africa hit a record high of 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The government has been reducing that number, and it shows with South Africa’s statistics agency, Stats SA, announcing a drop in the unemployment rate in nearly two years. However, youth unemployment has remained high in South Africa, with 66% unemployed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government is increasing its effort to address youth employment in South Africa by addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter. The president recognized that as the country is gearing up to commemorate Youth Day, paying tribute to the school children who stood up against the apartheid regime in 1976, today`s youth has its own challenges, the main one being unemployment.

President Ramaphosa recognized that today`s youth have their struggles in the pursuit of a better life. The president acknowledged that even though the government has made substantial progress in curbing youth unemployment in the country, millions of young people in South Africa remain unemployed. The President, however, introduced the Presidential Employment Stimulus through the restored National Youth Service (NYS) and Social Employment Fund (SEF) is geared to aid the youth in facing and solving these problems.

“The SEF will create 50 000 new work opportunities in the first phase before scaling up further in subsequent phases. This work is in areas like community safety, food kitchens, urban agriculture, early childhood development and the fight against gender-based violence,” he said.

The president also stressed that the National Youth Service (NYS) had been mandated to create 50 000 more jobs for the youth in South Africa. Adding on, the president emphasized that the programme will provide vital work experience for the child in South Africa, putting them in a better position in the job market. Furthermore, the president sees this programme as a skills-building exercise that will not only improve the youth`s ability but also contribute to improving the country as a whole on all fronts.

The president stated that as a government, they see the unemployed people in the country as playing a significant role in the nation’s development.

“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 eager people.

President Ramaphosa later called upon the private sector to join the government and play its part in developing the nation by creating jobs.

“I once again call on business to be part of this effort by employing more young people, by making use of the Employee Tax Incentive and other measures, and by supporting and buying from businesses owned and run by young people,” President Ramaphosa said.

The president concluded that despite the significant setback to the economy due to the pandemic, the South African economy is steadily returning to its pre-pandemic state. He vowed that the government would keep on introducing new initiatives to solve the unemployment crisis in the country.

Youth are already being enlisted for all these programmes. Read the full Newsletter from the president here.




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