Ramaphosa launches YES initiative to address youth unemployment

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday morning launched the YES initiative which is aimed at addressing youth unemployment. (Amanda Khoza/News24)
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday morning launched the YES initiative which is aimed at addressing youth unemployment. (Amanda Khoza/News24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said it saddened him to see young people standing on the streets aimlessly.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the launch of the Youth Employment Service, which will be known as the YES initiative, at the Riverside Incubation Hub in Midrand on Tuesday. It is being launched by government in partnership with business and organised labour.

"This is an occasion of great significance in our country."

Ramaphosa said the initiative was aimed at addressing the most pressing socio-economic challenges in the country, particularly poverty and unemployment among the youth.

"We know that millions of these young people do not complete school, when they do, they do not have the skills that our economy needs."

He said the initiative had its genesis 18 months ago, when government was challenged to support small and medium enterprises and garner more investments in the economy.

Not favours, but opportunities

Ramaphosa said he in turn challenged business to create half a million jobs a year in order to address youth unemployment.

"In many ways this initiative is set to change the lives of many young people in our country."

He said it was not only going to be based in urban areas.

"We want it to touch the lives of the young people right there in the rural areas."

He remarked that young people did not want favours, instead they wanted opportunities but often incur great costs in their efforts to find employment. He cited the "great distances" between the places where they live and the places of work as an example.

"This is where we all work together to respond to a social challenge that affects our people," Ramaphosa added.

Attracting investors

The president said the country had the means to face its challenges.

"The decision to not downgrade us is a shot in our arm, we can face the other rating agencies with the view of them to review their rating."

He said the aim was to make South Africa more attractive to investors.

"It is out of these investments that we will be able to create jobs."

However, Ramaphosa pointed out that it was of concern that each year one million young people enter the schooling system, but only half make it to matric.

He said the government was increasing its investment in technical and vocational education and training colleges as they produce technical skills.

More initiatives promised

"Another pillar of our national effort to creating jobs for our young people was ensuring the preparation for work readiness. We need sustainable programmes that will prepare the youth for first-time employment."

He said the future belonged to the youth.

"But they need to see that future now and today, they do not want to see it yesterday or in 10 years’ time."

Ramaphosa has promised that there will be further initiatives to address challenges facing the youth.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura echoed the president's sentiments. He said the future of the country was in the hands of the youth and that it was important to transform the township economy.

"The call for a social compact is something that is taking full shape."

He encouraged the youth to stop feeling sorry for themselves and go out and make a difference.

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