Securing a brighter future for youth
15 June 2021
With South Africa commemorating Youth Day this week, government is set to announce additional measures intended to improve the lives of young people.
“This week, on Youth Day, we will be launching a range of additional measures to create opportunities, enhance skills development, support young entrepreneurs and enable the full participation of young people in the economy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
Addressing South Africans in his weekly newsletter, the President said the measures that will be launched include the establishment of a National Pathway Management Network, SA Youth, to make it easier for young people to view and access opportunities, and receive active support to find pathways into the labour market.
“These are among the priority actions of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which was launched just weeks before we entered the national lockdown last year, and is now entering full implementation.
“The Presidential Youth Employment Intervention was built on the understanding that to address the youth unemployment crisis requires innovative thinking and strong partnerships across society,” the President said.
Its ultimate objective is to find models that work, whether in skills development or active labour market policies, and to scale these models rapidly to reach as many young people as possible.
“Most importantly, it recognises that young people must be at the centre of any effort to boost youth employment,” the President said.
He said tackling youth unemployment requires accelerating economic growth, particularly in labour-intensive sectors, and building the capability of the State to fulfil its developmental role.
“We are also driving this agenda through a series of targeted interventions. These include the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has provided work opportunities and livelihoods support for many young people,” the President said.
South Africa commemorates Youth Day on 16 June in honour of the youth of 1976, who rose up against the iniquity of Bantu Education in Soweto and other parts of the country.
“On that day and in the days that followed, many lost their lives. They were killed by a callous regime that had little regard for black lives and thought nothing of opening fire on unarmed, uniformed schoolchildren,” the President said.
He said it is disturbing that knowledge and awareness of the events of 16 June is diminishing among young South Africans.
“This is particularly so among the so-called Generation Z, or young people born between 1997 and 2015. The 2019/20 South African Social Attitudes Survey published by the Human Sciences Research Council found that close to 40% of Generation Z has not heard of the historical events of June 16.
“A similar percentage has heard about it but knows very little or nothing about it,” the President said.
The survey found that young people of this generation are nevertheless open to learning about key historical events and believe in their continued importance.
“We need to do more as a country to ensure that the message of this event, of young people taking charge of their destiny and standing up against apartheid rule, is transmitted faithfully. This is a collective responsibility of government, schools, tertiary institutions, parents, families, musicians, artists, and indeed all of society,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa said due to the sacrifices of the 1976 generation, the opportunities young black men and women have today are both vastly different and greatly improved.
“Keeping the story of June 16 alive is a reminder to today’s generation of the great sacrifices made to secure their freedom. But it is much more than that. Youth Day is also a reminder of the immense power and agency that young people have to create a better future for themselves.
“The struggles of young people in South Africa today are many. Young people have remained at the forefront of activism, whether in pursuit of free education or against social ills like gender-based violence,” the President said.
He noted that today’s greatest struggle for young people is against unemployment, something that has worsened under the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Creating more opportunities for young people, and supporting young people to access these opportunities, is government’s foremost priority,” the President said.