Parliament - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Friday
called for urgency in discussions on the youth wage subsidy, saying the problem
of creating jobs for young people cannot be indefinitely deferred.
A broad range of measures were needed to make progress in
expanding employment and alleviating the special problem of youth unemployment,
he told the National Assembly during debate on his budget vote.
These included measures aimed at stronger investment and
growth through the infrastructure build programme and economic support package,
and addressing skills constraints in the economy through measures to improve
access to and the quality of basic, further and higher education.
Tailored employment policies - including the community work
programme, environmental sector public work programmes, and the national rural
youth service corps - received additional allocations in February's budget and
would help boost youth and overall employment in the short term, he said.
There had been a number of concerns raised with the proposed
youth employment incentive. Discussions with social partners were aimed at
mitigating these concerns.
The rules, design, and monitoring of a youth employment
incentive needed to ensure that it did not have negative unintended
consequences, including potential displacement of existing jobs.
"We would like to see these issues addressed fully in discussion
between social partners at Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour
Council), but with urgency, as the challenge of creating jobs for young people
cannot be indefinitely deferred," Gordhan said.
Data from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey showed overall
employment decreased by 75 000 in the first quarter of 2012.
Employment fell across all age groups, with job shedding
most severe among those aged 25 to 34 years old (31 000, quarter-to-quarter), 35
to 45 years (22 000 q/q), and 55 to 64 years (21 000 q/q).
Employment for all age groups (except those aged 35 to 44)
remained below the pre-crisis level, although young people aged 15 to 24 years
continued to be worst affected (360 000 or 20% below 2008 levels),