Youth must move South Africa forward


17 June 2015

The private sector has been called on to open their businesses to South Africa’s youth for internships and apprentices in line with the Youth Employment Accord.

“The economy is not growing as fast as we want to and is not creating as many jobs as we need. As a result, many of our graduates sit at home without jobs,” President Jacob Zuma said at the national Youth Day event in Tshwane on 16 June.

“We have to work together to provide opportunities for the youth, who are the future of our country. The government cannot perform this task alone. We thank all businesses that continue to employ young people and offer opportunities to them.”

Young South Africans were also encouraged to become entrepreneurs.

Financial aid

The Industrial Development Corporation, in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), has ring-fenced R2.7-billion over the next five years for young people to take up opportunities in business.

In the last financial year, the NYDA supported 1 043 micro and small youth-owned enterprises. The agency has also provided non-financial business development support to 62 990 young aspiring and established entrepreneurs.

“We have urged government departments to market the various training and development programmes that they offer nationally and provincially, as well as in municipalities in the country. Already various ministers and deputy ministers are engaged in a month-long imbizo programme engaging our youth in various corners of our country, to inform them of opportunities that exist,’ Zuma said.

He also spoke about the Presidential Youth Working Group. It is a platform for young people to participate in government policy-making. They will be able to flag their needs and help to ensure policies lead to better future outcomes for the youth. It would have, said Zuma, five work streams to promote the goal of achieving economic freedom:

  • Economic participation and transformation;
  • Education, skills and second chances;
  • Health care and combating substance abuse;
  • Nation building and social cohesion; and,
  • Building effective and responsive youth development institutions.

Young achievers

He also recognised outstanding young South Africans. These included the youngest medical doctor in the country, Dr Sandile Kubheka, who completed his medical degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal when he was only 20, and 25-year-old rocket scientist Siyabulela Xuza from Umthatha, who studied energy engineering at Harvard University in the United States. The Americans recognised Xuza’s achievements by naming a mini-planet after him.

Also recognised was the youngest pilot in the country, 18-year-old Grade 12 pupil Marcelle Nienaber, who obtained her pilot’s license at the age of 16. The young scientist who developed the world’s first functional digital laser, Dr Sandile Ngcobo was also recognised, as was the youngest skydiver in the South African National Defence Force, Corporal Dakalo Mavhungu, 22, from Tshakuma village, Limpopo.

“We want more young people to become achievers in sports. In this regard, we congratulate Sithelo Mlambo from uMlazi township in Durban, the winner of the Karate World Cup competition that was recently held in Durban, hosted by South Africa for the first time.”

Personal responsibility

Zuma’s message to young South Africans was that every young person must take responsibility for their own development and for the path towards economic freedom. In doing so, he urged young South Africans to embrace unity in diversity, non-racialism and anti-tribalism.

He outlined the achievements the government had made for youth development over the past 21 years since the first democratic elections. Education continued to receive the biggest chunk of the national budget, and the government currently invested more than R6-billion in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

Several government departments also provided bursaries in various fields such as social work, science and technology, teacher training, medical training and many others. Almost 900 000 young people were supported through the NYDA’s career guidance programmes.

“We are building more institutions of higher learning as well. We are building three new universities and 12 technical and vocational training colleges. The government also continues to build modern new schools to replace mud schools and other inappropriate structures.

NYDA chairperson Yershen Pillay said the responsibility of young people today was to end the triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment.