Govt in digital skills drive as it fights youth joblessness

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 18 Oct 2021
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The next phase of government’s Presidential Employment Stimulus will zone in on training young people in digital skills, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

In addition, youth-owned enterprises will receive support to expand and provide job opportunities, notes Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter this morning.

“Unemployment in our country is a crisis,” he says. “We cannot afford endless delays in addressing this problem because of bureaucratic red-tape, outdated recruitment processes, lack of capacity and planning, or programmes that are short-lived or unsustainable.

“The Presidential Employment Stimulus has demonstrated that we can create jobs if we work together as the public sector, labour, community and government.”

Government ministers officially announced phase two of the stimulus programme last week, saying this next phase will support training for in-demand skills, as well as create direct links for young people to jobs that are available.

Recent figures from Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey paint a grim picture of unemployment in the country – showing there were 7.8 million jobless South Africans in the second quarter of 2021, representing 34.4% of the population.

To address the scourge of unemployment, particularly among the country’s youth, government has prioritised programmes that will create employment opportunities, boost digital skills and digital capacity.

The Presidential Employment Stimulus is one of government’s responses to economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing the broader severity of youth unemployment in SA.

In the first phase of the employment stimulus, 84% of the participants were young people under the age of 35, and two-thirds were women, says Ramaphosa.

The president adds the number of participants in phase two is expected to be even higher, as nearly R1 billion in funding has been allocated for the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI).

The PYEI brings together many partners to create a single network that allows young people to access a wider selection of opportunities. “As part of the intervention [PYEI], several young people will be recruited into a revitalised National Youth Service programme,” he says.

In a statement, the Department of Employment and Labour says young people can access opportunities during phase two of the stimulus by registering their profile on the network.

It states: “This network allows young people to register and receive active support to find employment, and aggregates opportunities from a wide range of partners within and beyond government.”