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Manamela offers solutions to youth unemployment

Aug 25 2016 15:31
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – Encouraging young people towards entrepreneurship and self-employment is the central solution to deal with youth unemployment, according to Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela.

Manamela was speaking about the issue of youth unemployment at the Labour Law conference at Emperor’s Palace on Thursday. He highlighted the fact that two out of three young people are unemployed; they are either looking for jobs or others have “given up” and stopped looking.

“We are faced with the biggest youth unemployment in the recent history of our country and globally,” he said. The global financial crisis in 2008 worsened the employment rate and youth unemployment in particular. At the time 1 million jobs were lost.

Another issue is the fact that there are a large number of unemployed graduates. In 2013, there were close to 200 000 unemployed graduates, he said. “Skills and education does not guarantee employment.”

Practical skills

Matamela went on to share interventions to be implemented to change the youth unemployment narrative.

“We have to encourage young people to take up entrepreneurship,” he said. Entrepreneurs should receive financial and non-financial support. Government policy should be tweaked to support procurement processes. Additionally, policies should be supportive of youth and black economic empowerment, he said.

A whole range of government-led programmes should be set up as a platform for small businesses, and red tape that makes business creation difficult should be eliminated.

Secondly, university education should match skills demands of the labour market. Internships and in-service training can facilitate better preparation for the work environment, he explained.

Manamela placed emphasis on the fact that Further Education and Training (FET) institutions should be expanded. More young people are focused on becoming university graduates.

FET colleges allow for shorter training periods, which can churn out graduates with practical skills faster to enter the labour market. “It takes three years to train a plumber when it can take six months. We are not using resources in a manner that is beneficial for our economy,” he explained.

FETs should also drive entrepreneurship skills training, he added.

There should also be more internal investments in the productive sector. “There is a global trend of financialisation and monopoly in the financial sector,” said Manamela. Although jobs have grown in the services sector, particularly in financial services, jobs in the agriculture, mining and other “labour intensive” sectors have declined.

READ: How a wage subsidy can alleviate SA’s youth unemployment

The commodity price boom should have led to an increase in employment in the mining sector, but currently most mines are shedding jobs. Investment in the sector is critical and government is looking towards beneficiation to develop the value chain. This should essentially create employment.

Access to land is another issue that needs to be addressed, explained Manamela. Agricultural land is being transformed to be used for gaming and other tourist attractions. “The labour intensive element of agriculture is declining.” Government policy is required to encourage investment in the sector.

More labour reform is required, which is at the core of the National Development Plan. Labour market flexibility will lead to the absorption of younger people in the market, he explained.

The Presidential Youth Working Group, launched in 2015, is intended to look at a whole range of issues to deal with youth unemployment. Some initiatives include preferential employment for youth in big government projects, said Manamela.

Investment in infrastructure development is also meant to lead to the absorption of young people into projects within sustainable jobs and through the generation of small enterprises, he explained.

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