Youth get answers on unemployment crisis

On Thursday, January 19, the Gauteng Provincial Legislature held a feedback session with young people from across the province to discuss government initiatives aimed at addressing youth unemployment and other socio-economic challenges.

The session, organized by the Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and the Legislature (OCPOL), was a follow-up to last year’s Youth Unemployment Workshop.

Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, made a brief appearance at the event and emphasized his commitment to prioritizing youth development.

“We want to commit as government that any child that has passed very well (top three students), in every school in the township and informal schools, we want to take the financial burden from their parents and give them a bursary for four years,” he said.

Lesufi also spoke about the issue of drugs and alcohol abuse among youth, stating, “We can’t sit and fold our arms and watch young people fall to the ground purely because drugs have taken over. Any person who sells drugs to the youth is an enemy of the state and must be dealt with.”

He also announced that no new liquor licenses will be issued under his administration.

OCPOL committee chair Bonginkosi Dhlamini, Premier Panyaza Lesufi speak at the Youth Unemployment Workshop feedback session at Johannesburg City Hall.

The OCPOL Committee is led by Honourable Bonginkosi Dhlamini, who chaired the proceedings at the Joburg central hall along with committee members and stakeholders in the youth development space.

Some of the challenges discussed at the session included high youth unemployment rates in townships, a lack of community projects led by young people, and a need for better vocational training opportunities.

The administration of TVET College has been included as one of the barriers that limit young people to get skills and job opportunities.

Young people also sent a stern message to government that they want to lead their own community development programmes and not always wait for handouts.

The importance of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans for youth development programs was also highlighted. This was attributed to the lack of progress on the Tshepo 1 Million program which is Gauteng Government’s short-term strategy to address youth unemployment.

“Young people want local community projects led by them, supported by government as a partner,” said Fasiha Hassan, OCPOL committee member while outlining key points from last year’s meeting.

Currently, over 1.3 million young people in Gauteng are unemployed, with the unemployment rate reduced from 50.5% to 47.68%.

In the session, government also outlined the various programs to employ the youth and assist enterprises led by young people.

In the current financial year, about R2.4 billion has been allocated for youth development.

Here are some of the successes in the current term (Q2 2022-23):

  • 38 561 youth accessing economic opportunities/ Income generating programmes (DSD)
  • 10 226 beneficiaries participated in the Welfare to work Programme.
  • 573 work opportunities created through Tshepo 1 million.
  • 310 unemployed youths trained in the automotive skills (GGDA)
  • 98 youth trained in ICT skills (GGDA) 38 606 youth are participating in skills development programmes (DSD)
  • Over 224 441 youth-owned businesses in the province
  • A total of 11 597 job opportunities created by all agencies and departments

During the session, young people also got the opportunity to reflect on their own initiatives to combat unemployment and reduce poverty-stricken homes.

All of the solutions and interventions will be taken in a report to the Legislature for adoption. Once accepted, it will serve as a guide for all departments to implement the objectives outlined.

The session highlighted five main pillars for addressing youth unemployment and socio-economic challenges:

  1. Quality Education, Skills Training & Second Chances: The government committed to providing educational and skills to young people, working with civil and private partners in delivering quality access to education and skills development programmes
  2. Economic Transformation, Entrepreneurship & Job Creation: Alternative interventions were discussed as a way to address youth unemployment in the short and long term such as small business development and funding.
  3. Physical and Mental Health & Wellbeing Promotion: The fight against substance abuse was emphasized as a priority for Lesufi’s administration. Sports and recreational programs must be supported, empower Gender Based violence victims and prioritize programs for youth living with disabilities.
  4. Social Cohesion and Nation Building: The importance of community projects, support patriotism, mainstream support for LGBTI+ community, young offenders and the homeless
  5. Effective & Responsive Youth Machinery: Youth development programs that young people must lead and strengthen youth formations

According to the report, the Youth Directorate in the OOP will serve as the custodian of the GIYDS and will work closely with the MEC responsible for Youth Development to coordinate the implementation of the GIYDS 2030 with the support of the Gauteng Youth Advisory Panel.

WATCH: The recording of the proceedings during the Youth Unemployment Workshop feedback session. Source: Gauteng Provincial Legislature

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