South Africa to tackle youth skills deficit

first_img17 June 2014 South Africa will massively expand its post-school education and training intake over the next five years as the government moves to raise skills levels and cut unemployment among young people, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Youth Day. Addressing a national Youth Day event at Galeshewe Stadium in Kimberley on Monday, Ramaphosa said one of the most important factors contributing to youth unemployment in the country was the relatively low levels of skills among young people. “This is perhaps the most devastating aspect of our apartheid inheritance,” the Deputy President said, adding that effectively addressing youth unemployment would not only lift millions of South Africans out of poverty, but would also place the economy on a sustainable, inclusive growth path. Ramaphosa noted that progress had been made in a number of areas since 1994. Nearly three-million work opportunities for young people had been created through public works and community work programmes, R2.7-billion had been set aside for youth entrepreneurship finance and support in the last five years, and the amount of student bursaries had been doubled. But more needed to be done, focusing on special measures to ensure that young people had access to training, work experience, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. “Government will direct contractors to help increase the number of engineers and artisans, project managers, machine operators and financial managers. State-owned enterprises will need to increase the number of training opportunities offered to young South Africans,” Ramaphosa said. The government was also proceeding with the implementation of a youth employment incentive scheme, which aims to lower the cost and risk for companies taking on new entrants. Ramaphasa said that at least 60% of jobs in new projects forming part of the government’s massive infrastructure drive had been set aside for young people. This would be combined with improved training by FET colleges and universities to ensure that there were enough young people with the necessary skills. “Part of this effort includes the establishment of two new universities in Mpumalanga and here in the Northern Cape. We expect that the Sol Plaatjie University will have a profound impact, ensuring that skills, knowledge and talent are retained in this province.” SAinfo reporterlast_img