Economic recovery plan should be youth-centric

Deputy President David Mabuza says the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan should respond to young people, who are digitally adept in ICT.

Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, the Deputy President said this also demands skills and expertise, which will enable young people to adapt adequately to a changing workplace and technological demands.

“It is a fact that young people have immense potential that should be harnessed, especially for the poor majority who need us to address the structural factors pertaining to skills development, education and economic inclusion.

“No society should allow young people to wallow in hopelessness when there are possible solutions that can change the prevailing situation,” he said.

The Deputy President said the potential to recover and reconstruct the economy lies in recognising that in order to reconstruct, there is a need for a youth-centric, multi-sectoral, strategic and innovative ethos that guides massive employment, impacting positively on the demand and supply side of the labour market.

“This new approach sees youth as not only potential beneficiaries of jobs, but as co-creators of a new economy as well.

“A study into Youth Labour Market Transitions by the National Planning Commission concluded that there needs to be a change in approach to the pathway management of youth – from education to active economic participation. Youth development programmes must account for their different circumstances, constraints, needs and aspirations.”

Private sector role in aiding youth jobs

The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that the private sector also has a responsibility to contribute to making South Africa better.

“We must also look at young people as creators of industry.”

The Deputy President lauded the Department of Tourism for implementing empowerment programmes for the youth in areas such as culinary, food safety, sommelier and hospitality.

“Young people in these programmes also receive stipends as part of a comprehensive poverty alleviation response.

“The non-financial business support provided to SMMEs is critical in ensuring their sustanaibility,” said Mabuza.

The Deputy President said that at the same time, the stimulus contributes to catalysing economic recovery through the multiplier effects of spending in local economies.

He said this spending directly supports small enterprises and the informal sector in townships and rural areas.

“In the current phase of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which was announced by the President, the target is providing 700 000 directly-funded opportunities.

“These range from public employment to livelihood support for vulnerable categories of the self-employed and job retention schemes.

“By the end of February this year, more than 550 000 opportunities were being implemented to support the employment of education and teacher assistants.

“Of this, more than 300 000 young people were employed as teacher and education assistants across 20 000 schools.”

The Deputy President said in addition to these interventions, government has over the past year laid the foundation to address the barriers facing young people in order to shift their trajectory from learning to earning, so that they are able to gain a foothold in the economy.

“We are mindful of the dictates of the Future of Work, which requires us to adapt to the changing environment in the workplace.

“This means embracing digitisation, upgrading of workforce planning and reskilling, targeting of high growth sectors and roles, as well as finding opportunities for entrepreneurship.”