Job seekers’ grant ‘won’t replace youth wage subsidy’

2012-06-27 15:45

The ANC’s proposal for a job-seekers’ grant has raised suspicion that the party seeks to pass the youth wage subsidy through the back door.

But head of policy in the ANC Jeff Radebe denied that the grant is meant to fill the space initially created for the disputed youth wage subsidy.

He said it was “part of an initiative to support the youth”.

“The job seekers’ grant is not a replacement of the youth wage subsidy,” Radebe told journalists at the ANC policy conference in Midrand this afternoon.

The job seekers’ grant is proposed in the social transformation policy discussion document of the ANC, which will be mulled over at this week’s policy conference. The document doesn’t differentiate between the youth wage subsidy and this grant.

According to the social transformation policy discussion document, youth unemployment was one of the key challenges with “almost three quarters of young people being unemployed”. It noted that young people were always the last to get jobs because of inexperience, lack of education and training.

See our special report on youth unemployment, Young, Desperate and Jobless, here.

“This results in queuing and lifecycle matters which can be partially addressed through jobs search support,” the document adds.

It’s not the first time that the job seekers’ grant has been mentioned. In 2009 government presented the idea as part of the six income support schemes that were being investigated by the departments of social development, labour and the National Treasury.

At the time the deputy director-general of social security in the department of social development, Selwyn Jehoma, said the grant would be paid to those who showed a willingness to acquire skills and find jobs.

At a media briefing yesterday, ANC president Jacob Zuma said he was one of the people who called for the subsidy to be introduced: “How can we create a bridge between the youth coming out of our universities and those who are employed?”

Radebe said both the National Youth Development Agency and the ANC Youth League support the grant.

The National Treasury has already approved a R5 billion budget for the youth wage subsidy, but it’s yet to be implemented because of the resistance, particularly from the ANC’s workers’ union ally, Cosatu. The federation rejected the youth wage subsidy, saying international studies showed the subsidy was “extremely costly and wasteful” and might not produce the desired results. The DA, however, insists the youth wage subsidy works, having implemented it in the Western Cape.

Radebe said the views of branches on proposed policies will be known from tomorrow, once the eleven commissions have reported back to conference plenary.

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