A youth employment programme launched last week will help create young entrepreneurs, although it is not a panacea for South Africa’s chronic unemployment problem, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

In the latest edition of a weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said his government would continue to work with business, labour and civil society to ensure that “the burden of unemployment does not continue to weigh down our young people, crush their spirits and cause them to become despondent”.

The country’s official unemployment rate was unchanged at its previous record high of 29.1 percent of the labour force in the fourth quarter of 2019, Statistics South Africa said in a report last Tuesday.

Last week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the future of cannabis in South Africa.
Photo: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

The report, based on Stats SA’s latest quarterly labour force survey, showed that the percentage of young people aged 15 to 24 years who were not in employment, education or training increased from 31.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 32 percent in the last three months of 2019.

On Monday, Ramaphosa said the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention launched on the eve of his state of the nation address last Thursday was a strategic national plan which would prioritise action to tackle joblessness among young people.

“This includes a national pathway management network that matches candidates with work opportunities. This will enable young people to have access to opportunities as some of them do not have the networks that make easy access to opportunities possible,” he wrote in his weekly column,adding that the intervention would also support the growth of young entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurship is certainly not a panacea, but I am convinced that it is one effective and proven way to confer identity and purpose, a sense of belonging, and hope for the future for the youth,” he said.

The official unemployment rate was 29.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Picture: KALHH/Pixabay

In his state of the nation address in Parliament, Ramaphosa said his government would set aside one percent of the national budget towards the youth employment initiative.

On Monday, he said specialised short focused courses in skills needed by employers would be organised to address the perennial mismatch between existing educational, training and development programmes and the requirements of the economy.