Curbing youth unemployment and supporting young people entering the world of work has very seldom been a success story in South Africa.
The country has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, and a shrinking labour market has made it even more difficult for the country’s future leaders and workforce.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which was set up in 2006 to tackle issues facing the country’s youngsters, and the Small Business Development Department, have now been tasked to work together on tackling this growing scourge.
According to the NYDA, which recently briefed Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, said it was finalising a number of plans in conjunction with the department.
NYDA CEO Waseem Carrim said one of those plans was on how to reach an agreed target of setting up 15,000 enterprises for the youth.
He said the agency was working on three major projects with European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) to achieve this goal.
The agency had identified the hemp industry as a key project. However, there were legal challenges that needed to be taken into consideration.
Committee chairperson Claudia Ndaba advised the NYDA and the department do a follow-up meeting to ensure that young people were granted the hemp licences by the Health Department.
Carrim, who was presenting the NYDA’s Quarter Three Report for 2020/2021, said that in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Youth Micro Enterprise Relief Fund was developed and had so far approved 1144 applications for funding.
He said the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention was focused on developing the SAYouth. While there had been some victories, Carrim said that last year had been impossible for the agency to meet all of its 25 Key Performance Indicators due to budget cuts, essential vacancies not been filled and poor governance.
However, with the help of an Audit and Risk Committee, recently appointed to help the agency, and a managerial team that had been “pulled together”, the NYDA was working on “catch-up” plans to ensure that all targets were met.
Going forward, Carrim said the NYDA and the department would also help young people get jobs by arranging a campaign on agriculture so that had a better understanding of the opportunities in the sector, including hemp.
The department’s acting chief director for youth, Bernice Hlagala, also briefed the committee. She said the department was currently consulting stakeholders on the NYDA Amendment Bill.
It seeks to strengthen the agency’s operations, enhance governance and promote the NYDA’s products and services.
She also announced that the National Youth Policy 2030 had been approved by Cabinet and would be launched tomorrow.