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Patel: Youth jobs created, but not fast enough

Mar 03 2015 19:00
Donwald Pressly

Cape Town - The number of jobs for South African youths has increased by about 400 000 between October 2010 when the new growth path was adopted to 6.1 million by the end of December 2014.

However, the number of newcomers to the job market outran the pace of jobs creation, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told MPs on Tuesday.

In a written reply to Economic Freedom Fighters MP PG Moteka, Patel acknowledged that the global economic crisis had a negative impact on the South African economy and labour market. “A substantial number of jobs were lost, particularly youth jobs,” he said.

Moteka asked whether Patel's department has a master plan to counter increasing levels of unemployment. This is in view of youth unemployment having risen from 3 million in 2009 to the highest level of 3.4 million 2013 and 2014, as well as the general unemployment rate of 25.5%.

Patel, who is the principal architect of the new growth path which was adopted in October 2010 “to address the structural features of the economy that made South Africa so vulnerable during the global economic crisis and its key job drivers”, said its strategies are now being implemented.

From October 1 2010 until December 31 last year, the number of youths with jobs rose from 5.7 million to 6.1 million “which is a growth of 416 000 jobs”, said Patel. “However, the number of youths who completed studies or left school also rose by 573 000.

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“The result was a growth in both new youth jobs as well as the number of youth unemployed. Youth unemployment over the same period grew from 3.24 million to 3.25 million, which is a growth of 13 000. If we include discouraged workers, who want a job but have given up looking for it, the number climbed from 5.32 million to 5.38 million or 62 000," said Patel.

The share of working age people in employment rose from 41% in October 2010 to 43% in December 2014. For youth, the share with employment climbed from 30.3% in October 2010 to 31% in December 2014. “In order for us to make faster progress in addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, the rate of employment and the share of working age adults in employment needs to grow even more.”

Referring to the national development plan, spearheaded by former finance minister Trevor Manuel, Patel described this as “the centre of economic policy”. Patel’s new growth path and the other government plans – the national infrastructure plan and the Industrial Policy Action Plan – all provide “operational directions for achieving the aims of the national development plan”.

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Referring to the R800bn infrastructure plan alluded to by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation speech, he said the heart of this is to raise construction jobs and procure inputs from local producers – including small businesses – while creating jobs and encouraging enterprises to produce more competitively and improve workers’ conditions.

In rural areas where only one in five working age people have jobs, apartheid had deprived these areas of adequate land, water and infrastructure so that many households could not support themselves from farming.

“We need to combine improved access to resources and infrastructure with the development of appropriate skills and market institutions to create more dynamic economics in our rural areas,” said Patel.

ebrahim patel  |  unemployment  |  jobs  |  sa economy


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