President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking at Youth Day commemorations in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, on Thursday, said his administration will respond to the high rates of unemployment among South Africa’s youth.
He said government plans to increase investment and remove red tape to help grow businesses and improve job creation.
“The fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education or training is the greatest challenge facing our country today,” Ramaphosa said.
According to Stats SA, youth unemployment in South Africa is at 66.5%.
Part of government’s plan to increase employment for young people is cutting the costs of applying for jobs in the public sector.
“Applicants for public service positions are no longer required to submit certified copies of their educational certifications and other relevant documents. In the past you had to compile a pile of all these documents and that has now been done away with.
“This simple change will significantly reduce the cost of applying, it will improve the turnaround times and also reduce the administrative burden on government departments,” said Ramaphosa.
The theme of this year’s commemoration was “Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”.
Invest in technology
Part of the plan to create jobs, said Ramaphosa, is to get the country to invest in technology.
“We need to invest in transportation and communications networks that move goods and information quickly and seamlessly,” he said.
He also said that young South Africans need to be trained to make the most of the opportunities that technology can provide.
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure that all the young people of this country have the skills, knowledge and desire to seize these opportunities and to thereby realise their great potential,” the president said.
To achieve this Ramaphosa vowed to increase access to data and reduce the costs.
“By simply lowering data costs, young people are more readily able to access information, and seek learning and earning opportunities. This isn’t just about cheaper or faster internet or having access to social media.
“It’s about connecting every corner of South Africa to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Limpopo or Eastern Cape where farmers can monitor weather across the province and market their produce across the globe.
“It’s about an entrepreneur with a great idea she hopes to sell to into the supply chains of large companies,” he said.
Opposition parties, however, weren’t as optimistic about the future as the president.
EFF leader Julius Malema said the ANC was unable to solve South Africa’s unemployment problem.
“You are not unemployed because you lack talent. You are unemployed because Ramaphosa has not given you a job,” he said.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the future of SA’s youth is bleak due to the lack of jobs and poor education.
“Never before has the future looked bleaker for young people. The prospect of finding meaningful work or leaving school with a useful education has never been worse,” he said.