Calls for greater support for the youth

Minister of Monitoring, Evaluation and Planning Jeff Radebe urged young people to be agents of change.

While the high unemployment rate continues to torment the country, with many young people finding themselves frustrated and battling to find work, government says it is working tirelessly to implement plans to address their concerns.

Youth unemployment and a lack of support from the government were among some of the main problems raised by young people who attended a youth dialogue summit held at the Thusong Centre in Khayelitsha.

The event, organised by the Department of Monitoring, Evaluation and Planning, took place on Tuesday June 13 and was aimed at affording young people a platform to highlight their problems and find lasting solutions to them.

They said young people who run small business were not receiving support from the government and called on authorities to stop talking about the plans they have, and start implementing them.

Addressing the Minister of Monitoring, Evaluation and Planning Jeff Radebe and officials from various stakeholders, chairperson of National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Sifiso Mtsweni, made it clear that it was time for government to introduce a policy which forces government and private companies to ensure that 40 percent of their staff are young people.

He pointed out that the harsh reality was that young people were unable to find jobs after graduating due to lack of experience required by many companies.

This, he said, was among the main contributing factors to the massive unemployment rate in the country.

He then asked the minister where these graduates would get the required three or five years of experience when they just got out of institutions of high learning.

He stated that it was an uphill battle for many young people who come from destitute families to access institutions of higher learning due to expensive fees and that if they eventually completed a qualification, companies were unwilling to give them a chance to acquire experience.

Mr Mtsweni promised the young people that the organisation would create a database of all graduates in the country to keep track of the number of young people leaving tertiary institutions with qualifications.

“We as young people have the potential and ability to be anything we want only if government can provide support.

“We need to be afforded a chance in life. We are pleading to the government to assist us.

“We must also, as young people, remember the great sacrifices made by the youth of 1976 because they paid a heavy price to liberate us,” he said.

Mr Radebe said young people were the lifeblood and future of this country, admitting that there was a lot that government still needed to do. He was, however, proud of inroads which had been made so far.

He told the young people present that government’s National Development Plan was aimed at ensuring that young people were supported and actively involved in the economy of the country and urged them to become job creators rather than aspiring to be employed after completing their studies.

Mr Radebe added that while 75 percent of the economy was still in the hands of the private sector, that could change if they work hard.

“I urge you young people to study maths, science, engineering and science because we need academics in those fields. Craft your own future and be agents of change in the society,” he said.

Young budding entrepreneur Sicelile Mnyengeza said government was failing to support young people, suggesting that government provide start-up funding for young people who want to start businesses.