Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an immeasurable honor for me to be here with you this morning on an occasion that is geared at advancing the development of the most important section of our population –the youth. I believe that what you have gathered here for is not just talk shop but a qualitative exercise in which what you are going to say, debate upon, bring forward as ideas, even differ upon, will ultimately result into a comprehensive piece of historical document that will be an attempt at bringing about a pragmatic and holistic solution to the common challenges that our young people face in this country.
I am also glad that this exercise will offer you a fair chance to be masters of your own destiny in a sense that you are the ones bringing about solutions to your own challenges as opposed to when someone else was force-feeding you what they think might be a solution to what they have no practical experience of.
Oscar Wilde once said: “I am not young enough to know everything.”. It is in Wilde’s words that I draw confidence that you, as the future leaders of this country, know more than most of us. It is in that vein that I believe you will be able to table here, not only tangible and practical solutions, but sustainable solutions that will address any form of challenges facing the youth for generations to come.
I also believe that this process will also arm you with the necessary and important skills of policy formulation.
Allow me to remind the delegates that this event is taking place during an interesting year in our history. It is just a matter of two and half months before we commemorate the 35th anniversary of June 16 Soweto Student Uprisings. It is my firm belief that those brave youngsters of 1976 laid a solid foundation for you as delegates here from which you can continue to build a strong South Africa for all. Let their sacrifices and selflessness not be in vain as you tackle the present-day enemy, which is among others, unemployment and underdevelopment.
Also, we are gathered here almost two months before the third Municipal Elections. Together with the Independent Electoral Commission we were pleased with the number of young people who showed an interest in the coming elections by registering as new voters. This is an indication that our hard-earned democracy will always be defended and no leadership void will occur once the current generation takes a bow.
It is no secret that one of the biggest challenges facing this country at the moment is high levels of unemployment, especially among the youth. Statistics show that 50 percent of South African youths are unemployed. According to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Africa ranked the worst in terms of unemployment for people between the ages of 15 and 24. With that at the back of your minds, the engineering of the lasting solutions being crafted here should be multi-pronged. In an effort to tackle this mammoth challenge head-on, you need to be very creative in a sense that you think of other ways and means in which the development of our youth can be advanced even outside of the formal job sector.
It is clear that government, through a number of initiatives attached to and talking to the New Growth Plan, has already started working on addressing issues of employment, especially among the youth. President Jacob Zuma made a clarion call in his State of the Nation Address to make 2011 the year of the jobs. Your challenge is to make sure that you do not duplicate existing ideas and programmes; what you need to do is to come up with ways and means in which you will be able to plug the gaps that exist and take advantage of what the employment environment is likely to present in the future.
I did mention in the State of the Province Address that the Gauteng Provincial Government have a number of plans to address employment of youth in the coming financial year. The Youth Employability Programme, amongst others, will target over 2 000 post-matric learners, providing them with support, training and placement in both private and public sector jobs. The Accelerated Artisan Training Programme will be expanded to accommodate 500 more artisans and we will also train about 100 young people in the tooling industry in collaboration with FET colleges around the province.
Furthermore, we are going to use activities that are close to the hearts of the youth to create a further 15 000 jobs by positioning our Province as a premier tourist destination, with the focus being on culture and heritage. One of the projects that will enhance this idea is the building of a Women’s Monument in Tshwane to commemorate and celebrate the important role that was played by our mothers and grandmothers in the liberation struggle. Other sources of employment opportunities will come from the adventure, nature-based, wellness and medical as well as sporting sectors. We have already confirmed that Tottenham Hotspur will be playing in Gauteng in July when they will be taking part in this year’s Vodacom Challenge, and given their current form both in the English Premiership and in the UEFA Champions League, we should be able to take advantage of the interest they are going to generate locally.
In addition, we will continue to tap the job creation potential of the creative industries with a focus on craft, music, performing arts, visual arts, fashion and film. We will identify untapped talent in partnership with local radio stations, individual artists and cultural organisations so as to develop and promote local music, especially Kwaito, Jazz, Hip Hop and House. Emerging artists are going to be supported with access to professional development, facilities and markets.
Government has also taken a keen interest in the development of entrepreneurs among our youth as part of growing small business that will in turn contribute towards creating employment. As a result, we are encouraging emerging and small businesses to seriously consider doing business with government as cooperatives in the future. As they say, hunting in a pack is better than a solo effort. The development of small business hubs in townships and other areas where there was previously less attention will take precedence. For example, some of these hubs will consist of a hair salon, car wash and internet café for ease of convenience.
However, for all these grand plans and strategies to become a reality, our youth have to take a leading role in becoming active players in the implementation phase. It is of no use to have visionary plans that will only remain confined to the pages of the papers written on without turning them into real and meaningful projects for the benefit of the masses.
The ball is now in your court. You have to rise to the challenge. Turn South Africa, you country, into well-oiled economic machinery with a competitive edge.
I would like to wish you everything of the best throughout this laborious process. We need to see the fruits of this labour in the not so distant future.
God Bless Africa.